Medical school is known for its challenging curriculum and rigorous course work — a stressful environment for a student not acclimated to the quickened pace. One such school, located in the heart of Brooklyn, is SUNY Downstate Medical Center, home to 1,430 students and 649 faculty members. Acceptance into SUNY Downstate is the goal of many ambitious college students, and its Early Medical Education (EME) Program provides an opportunity for students to learn the ropes and lock down strong study habits before taking on the full course load.

This year, out of the 19 students accepted into the program, nearly half call Brooklyn College home. Andrew Akcelik, Shane Brown, Monhazul Islam, Rahmia Nayeem, Abdul Rehman, Bhanu Seth, Dawn Springer and Robin Varughese have all enrolled in EME this summer.

As one of the four academic medical centers in the SUNY system, Downstate hosts the colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Health Related Professions as well as a School of Graduate Studies and a 376-bed teaching hospital, the University Hospital of Brooklyn, with full facilities.

“The program is building in content that’s closer and closer to what students will experience in medical school, so the transition is not so traumatic,” says Steven Silbering, director of pre-health professions advisement at Brooklyn College. Silbering serves as a guide for both potential students and those enrolled, and his work includes penning individual letters of recommendation.

Once accepted, each student must maintain a minimum science GPA of 3.00 as well as a non-science GPA of 3.20 and receive an acceptable score on the Medical College Admissions Test. The program consists of three summer sessions, two four-week sessions and a final six-week session during which students live at the college. There are no costs for the program other than books and supplies and, upon completion, the student is guaranteed acceptance into SUNY Downstate’s College of Medicine.