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Bay Area Medical Academy Students Gain Rare Real-World Experience Testing for COVID-19

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- A recent community-led effort to test San Francisco residents for COVID-19, including the unhoused populations in Bayview and Sunnydale/Visitacion Valley gave Bay Area Medical Academy (BAMA) phlebotomy students first-hand experience administering COVID-19 testing to underserved populations.

A critical part of students' phlebotomy training is externships, usually in a lab or a doctor's office, but in recent months these opportunities halted as hospitals and labs closed down access to students and postponed all elective and preventive procedures. However, through a broad community partnership called United in Health D10, which included UCSF, San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), Bay Area Phlebotomy and Laboratory Services (Bay Area PLS), and other community partners, BAMA students were able to complete externships and gain real-world experience in performing COVID-19 testing and drawing blood for COVID-19 antibody testing, while administering to underserved populations of African-American, Pacific Islander, Chinese, and LatinX residents in San Francisco.

Anne Williams, 57, a resident of San Francisco, just completed the BAMA phlebotomy training and was one of several students who participated in testing by performing venous punctures for blood collection for the COVID-19 antibody test in challenging outdoor settings-a school yard in Bayview, a baseball field in Visitacion Valley/Sunnydale, and a closed Bayview street working with the homeless and partially sheltered. According to Williams, the weather ranged from rain to incredibly strong winds that threatened to overturn the tents, to 95 degree heat while completely covered in layers of PPE. One patient jokingly referred to it as "fresh air phlebotomy." In spite of conditions, Williams felt it was a valuable experience.

"I felt like I was doing service in my community and a political action, rather than just a stepping stone toward getting my license," said Williams. "The heartfelt thank you's and gratitude we received made the work more than worth it. I ended up feeling like I got more back than I gave."

Typically, BAMA Phlebotomy students take 60 hours of class training and then 2-4 weeks of an externship in a clinical setting. Class training focuses on skills such as collecting blood using needles, documenting and identification of samples, hygiene and infection control protocols, and safe handling and transport of samples-much of which pertain also to COVID-19 and antibody testing. The students' work was overseen by doctors, nurses, and other specialists as part of United in Health D10, and students performed approximately 100 tests each.

The community testing initiative has proven valuable to BAMA which was in danger of being unable to find enough externships for students during the lockdown. Now, three of the participating students have been offered jobs, as a direct result of participating in the externships, with Bay Area PLS, according to CEO Salu Ribeiro.

After talking to a range of participants, Ribeiro believes there were added benefits to these unusual externships, including the fact that "students gained experience serving a diverse community and had exposure to technical challenges that develop their resilience required to become strong medical professionals."

BAMA founder and CEO Simonida Cvejic agrees. "Bay Area Medical Academy is about meaningful community impact, through empowering and training students for successful entry in the healthcare field but also through contributing to the healthcare of our community and this COVID19 testing project has provided us exactly that," Cvejic said. "In alliance with Bay Area PLS, our students got a chance to experience working in the front lines of the COVID19 testing, research and prevention."

Ribeiro expects the opportunity and others like it to continue. "We want to express our gratitude for being able to provide this service to the residents in San Francisco," Ribeiro said. "These students will be doing serial antibody testing with other projects - and we will be recruiting more BAMA students in the future."

About Bay Area Medical Academy

Bay Area Medical Academy (BAMA) provides healthcare career training created in partnership with employers. We prepare individuals from different socio-economic, cultural and educational backgrounds for careers working in the healthcare industry. BAMA's goal is to serve its students and the medical community through quality academic instruction and job-oriented, skills-training. We maintain a student-centered philosophy and use both traditional and innovative means to train our students. Bay Area Medical Academy is committed to the success of its students, believing that education is the best way to transform people's lives.

Bay Area Medical Academy ranks in the top 10% of B-Corps (benefits corporations) based on our rigorous standards of social performance, accountability, and transparency. We partner with social agencies to help people who face social barriers attend school. We also collaborate with STEP into a Job!(tm) to provide scholarships to high school seniors.

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Residents Medical Creates Pathways for Medical Residency Applicants

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- For medical students who want to practice medicine in the U.S., September is the most important month. Why? September is when the application process starts for medical school graduates to begin their hands-on training or Graduate Medical Education (GME). The competition is fierce. That's where Residents Medical comes in.

Without an accredited medical residency training that ranges from three to seven years, dependent upon medical specialty, a medical school graduate cannot practice medicine in the U.S. And, for the last decade there has been a big disparity in the number of applicants versus available training slots. On average, each year, 6,000 residency applicants fail to land a residency. The problem is referred to as the "Residency Bottleneck." In addition to this bottleneck, there also happens to be a doctor shortage in America like never seen before.

Since the 1990s, Residents Medical has helped its applicants to achieve prized medical residencies through its comprehensive services that include GME, preparatory and placement services. As a result, Residents Medical has been getting national recognition because of its innovative approach and success in assisting medical school graduates, worldwide.

For this residency application year, Residents Medical has helped its roster of students and candidates to prepare for and land coveted residency position interviews that have led to a post-graduate year residency training position. For example, Dr. Gill, a Residents Medical Placement Program Alumnus, was integrated into Keck School of Medicine of USC's Internal Medicine Department in a paid research associate position.

He worked under a world-renowned Research Primary Investigator and received medical training exposure in rotations at USC. After submitting research papers that he co-authored to medical journals, some of his research ended up being published in esteemed medical journals. He also obtained letters of recommendation from tenures. All of these factors strengthened his CV and made him a sought-after residency candidate. In the end, Dr. Gill was invited for an interview at a central California Family Medicine Residency Program where he was accepted as staff resident.

"I was applying for years, but couldn't get matched into a residency," Dr. Gill says. "I had average scores and graduated from a top medical school in India, but as an International Medical Graduate, it was tough. Residents Medical put me in a lauded University Hospital and academic setting - a place where I could prove myself."

Another Residents Medical alumnus, Dr. Javvaji, was placed in an unaccredited, one-year residency position at a residency program. An unaccredited PGY-1 offers the same experience as an accredited PGY-1 because the medical school graduate functions as an intern, and works alongside residents and faculty. He proved himself as a resident and was offered an interview at the program, and pre-matched into an accredited residency.

Residents Medical's unparalleled courses and pathways demonstrate that they are experts in understanding GME. They have created the means and the ways for capable MDs to have a chance to live their professional dreams.

From October through December, approximately 9,000 applicants will receive rejections from residency programs. Some may not even land one interview. Residents Medical offers hope to those rejected applicants by creating a real plan.

Once these applicants are vetted and accepted as a Residents Medical residency placement candidate, they can achieve their dream residency. They need to stick to the plan, work hard and prove themselves to the programs where they are integrated. They will get invited to interviews and continue moving forward in strengthening their skills.

"Every day, Residents Medical's phones, chatrooms, and emails are enumerated with overwhelmed residency applicants who have been rejected and/or don't know where to start," Sheila Aula, senior guidance counselor at Residents Medical, says. "Top U.S. medical schools have a mechanism in place to help their medical students transition, but lower-tier U.S. medical schools, Caribbean medical schools, and foreign medical schools don't. Twenty-five years ago it was a lot simpler. The game has changed, and that game is fierce and lopsided."

Residents Medical has created a niche in this highly-specialized field and is helping the community and residency programs, alike, to showcase the heart of American perseverance and entrepreneurship.

For more information: or 310-444-9700.

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Residents Medical Prepares its Roster for ERAS Residency Interview Season

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Interview season is here and medical residents are gearing up to navigate the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). They're also trying to locate a medical residency that's ACGME accredited. Thousands of residency applicants will get rejections this season because they are weak candidates and lack the proper experience for residency consideration. Residents Medical (RM) can help.

In fact, it's one of the only organizations around that specializes in Graduate Medical Education (GME) and the services needed to help applicants achieve residency.

RM's pedigreed preparation, educates, rehabilitates, consults and assists medical students and graduates by providing the necessary tools so they can effectively interview and ultimately be placed into ACGME accredited residency training programs.

Exclusive paths offered by RM include: Two "Fast Track to Residency" pathways which consist of either an "Unaccredited PGY1-2-Residency" or a "Research-2-Residency" pathway. They also have multiple educational services such as residency "Interview Prep" courses, "USMLE 1-on-1" tutoring taught by current residents at top ACGME University-based training programs; "CV/PS/ERAS" revamping and hands-on university-based externships.

RM takes their expertise a step further too. In addition to helping applicants, they also consult with health systems on how to start their own ACGME accredited residency training programs. In turn, this provides more opportunities for applicants to gain experience needed to qualify for residency. It's a win-win situation.

With an arsenal of experienced counselors, professors, staff members, current and former associate deans, chairmen, and directors of GME programs from top U.S. medical schools, RM's bench is second to none.

Through December 2016, RM is focused on pre-matching candidates and preparing them for the upcoming National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). They are confident that they will achieve success in helping candidates to locate residency training positions.

"There's no other organization out there that is zoned in on residency for their students and candidates like RM," Greg Heffernan, VP of Student Services at RM, says.

For more information, or to live chat with a counselor, visit:, call 310-444-9700; or make an appointment for an office visit.

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