For the Gifted Student Aspiring to a Medical Career
The Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME) offers a unique educational experience for talented students anticipating a career in medicine or medical science. The HPME fosters flexibility and creativity in the undergraduate education while reducing the pressures related to gaining acceptance to medical school. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the reduced pressure by exploring and challenging themselves personally and professionally to prepare a solid foundation for success in medical school and for leadership roles in their careers in medicine. HPME students are introduced to global health and research opportunities, advanced degree coursework and shadowing experiences as undergraduate students. They are encouraged and assisted in pursuing unique opportunities as undergraduate students that can be further developed and incorporated into their medical education and beyond.
A pioneering program established at Northwestern in 1961, the HPME admits students simultaneously to one of the undergraduate colleges at Northwestern University in Evanston and Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. HPME students participate in a flexible, individualized undergraduate program that may be completed in three or four years prior to matriculation to Feinberg School of Medicine. Though HPME requires specific science courses to ensure a strong foundation for medical school, each student’s course of study is different. Students work with faculty advisers to design a custom curriculum incorporating special academic and personal interests.
A Complete Program
As an undergraduate, an HPME student attends the Weinberg College of Arts, the School of Communication, or the McCormick School of Engineering on the Northwestern Evanston campus. After successfully completing undergraduate studies, HPME students matriculate to medical school at Feinberg School of Medicine on the Chicago campus. Students may take time off between their undergraduate studies and medical school to pursue research, additional degrees, international opportunities or other personal studies of interest. Students are counseled throughout their undergraduate careers about opportunities available to them. The program can assist in identifying research, shadowing, public health and global opportunities. Through various forums, past and current HPME students mentor each other and share their unique tracks and personal experiences within the program. These opportunities serve as tools to inspire ideas that lead to a customized educational plan.
Upon matriculation to medical school, HPME students often continue their research experiences longitudinally. Students with undergraduate international health experiences may continue to participate in global opportunities, often serving in leadership roles in student run organizations. Students may build upon “pre-professional” coursework to pursue dual degrees. Programs such as the combined MD/MPH program allow both degrees to be conferred after four years of study by those students engaged in public health coursework during their undergraduate career.
"HPME has truly been the single most powerful opportunity that I have ever been offered - I think if there's one thing I'd want people to know is that this is the chance for you to turn your education into a longitudinal experience. If you do happen to know what you want to do (and even if you don't), you can string together experiences in a coherent way (with some adjustments along the way as you learn what you do and don't like) to create a pretty compelling story and background that will set you up for the opportunity to make some potentially amazing contributions to medicine in your career."
Alexander Sheu, MD
Class of 2014
Fellow, Howard Hughes Institute, 2011-12
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine