HMSA: Everything You Need to Know

By Selena Shifflett
January 20, 2015

What is HMSA?

HMSA stands for the Health and Medical Sciences Academy. It is a program at Monticello High School that integrates health and medicine into science classes like Biology. Much of the curriculum was designed by teachers and doctors to create an authentic and engaging class.

For more history of the Academy itself and more information on the newer developments, check out another article, HMSA: Three Years Old and Going Strong, on the HMSA home page or the school newspaper’s website, mhshoofprint.com.

Who are the Heads of HMSA?

The Head of HMSA is Ms. Katina Dudley. She teaches Anatomy & Physiology to the second year HMSA students. Mr. Dove, Head of the Science Department at Monticello, also plays a big role in the Academy. He teaches first year HMSA students Biology & Principles of Medicine. Most first year HMSA students are more familiar with Mr. Dove, as he teaches them.

Am I right for HMSA?

This is for you to decide. HMSA is designed not only for students interested in medicine, but those interested in science as well. Any student who wants to be a doctor or a veterinarian or a researcher will benefit from the Academy. Any student with a love of science will also benefit from the Academy.

This being said, several students in the Academy have decided that medicine is not their thing, yet they stay in HMSA for its tight-knit family feeling. HMSA is not explicitly for those who love science or medicine, though it is geared towards those students.

Keep in mind that applying to the Academy half-heartedly is not the best choice. A lot of the labs and units HMSA students do require true interest in the topic in order for them to be enjoyable. If you haven’t been even slightly interested in science before you heard the ‘Academy’ title, then HMSA may not be the best fit for you.

More important than your love of science or passion for medicine is your problem-solving skills and ability to work with others. The model HMSA student is not always the best scientist in the class, but the student who works hard and is very engaged in the course.

I’m not sure I want to pursue a career in health and medicine. Can I still be in HMSA?

Yes, you can. Many current students in the Academy have no idea what they want to do for a living. Many don’t even know if they want to pursue a career in medicine or science.

Students interested in any way can definitely apply to be in HMSA. If you get into the Academy and decide that you don’t want to be in Health & Medicine, you are perfectly welcome to stay in the program where you have support from teachers and peers. If you decide to quit, that is fine, too.

There’s no requirement that states that students have to know exactly what they want to do in the medical field to be in HMSA. The majority of HMSA kids have only a vague idea. Part of being in the Academy is figuring out what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. HMSA works to give its students knowledge on a wide variety of careers.

In my first year of HMSA, what HMSA classes will I take?

First year HMSA students take a Biology class taught by Mr. Dove. Integrated into Honors Biology is Health 1 and the Principles of Medicine. It is one class that meets every day, all year long. Once you complete this class, you will have earned three credits; one for Biology, one for Health 1, and one for Principles of Medicine.

While the material in this class is a little harder than normal Biology and digs deeper into Health and Medicine, it is still all covered in one class. Every unit in this class was carefully planned out by Mr. Dove, Ms. Dudley, and a Committee of science teachers and doctors.

FIrst year HMSA students do not have to take Health 1 since it is integrated into their curriculum. In this case, they have several options. They can either take gym over the summer and free up a block for another class, or they can stay in the HMSA research period. During this period, students will conduct experiments with animals and their habits and lifestyles.

Are there only science HMSA classes, or are the rest of my classes with HMSA, too?

Only science and some health classes are part of the HMSA curriculum. HMSA students are free to take any History, English, Mathematics, language, or elective of their choosing, provided that it fits in their schedule.

What is Mustang Morning and what does that have to do with HMSA?

Mustang Morning is a period of time allotted into Monticello’s schedules where students can catch up on homework or go to teachers for help or makeup work. One day a week, the whole of HMSA students meet and listen to guest speakers, learn some of the Health 1 curriculum (if you’re a freshman), or get to know each other.

Will HMSA classes mess up my schedule?

This depends on the rest of your schedule. There is no guarantee that your schedule will ever be 100% perfect, with or without HMSA. There is no denying that your schedule will look very different from many of your peers who are not in the Academy. As you move forward with the Academy, you will likely be taking several science classes at a time. Because of this added workload, you may not have the room in your schedule for every class you want to take. In your first year, Biology alone takes up the time space of two classes on a normal schedule.

Can I still take the electives I want to take?

You can take whatever electives you want as long as your schedule allows it. Sports Medicine is highly recommended but in no way required.

Outside of class, what else do HMSA students do?

HMSA students can opt into going on a number of field trips to medical places of work and study throughout the year.

Students in the Academy are responsible for getting five hours of community service work per quarter. The community service is not as hard as it seems, for there are usually a couple options that Ms. Dudley and Mr. Dove offer as community service.

Do I have to have a certain grade to be in HMSA?

While having good grades in school may make you a more likely candidate to get into the Academy, there is no certain grade that you must maintain to stay in the Academy.

If I am set to go to another school (like Albemarle), can I still be in HMSA?

Students set to go to other schools like Albemarle or Western can still be in HMSA. The Academy is open to all students, not just those from Walton and Burley. You will have to transfer to Monticello High School in order to be in the Academy. The community of the Academy is made up of students from Walton, Burley, the Village School, and many other schools.

Are there any events that I can come to at Monticello to get a better look at the Academy?

Every year there is an HMSA Open House, usually in November. There is also a Curriculum Fair around the same time where you can not only look at HMSA, but the other electives and courses that Monticello has to offer. Ask your guidance counselor for the dates or look on the HMSA website.

Where can I get the application forms?

You can get application forms from your guidance counselor, or you can print them off of the HMSA website.

What is the application process like?

The application process has multiple parts to it. A student must get a total of four recommendations; one from a parent, one from a current math teacher, one from a current science teacher, and one from another person of choice. Your person of choice needs to be someone you’ve worked closely with, such as another teacher in the school or a coach of a sports’ team.

There is also an essay part of the application. You have to answer two free response questions in so many words.

The third part of the application is an interview with Ms. Dudley and Mr. Dove. See question 18 for more details.

You should take all three parts of this application very seriously because this application is all Mr. Dove and Ms. Dudley have to go on. They do not know you yet, and what you and your teachers say and write decide whether or not you get into the Academy.

Do I have to do the entire application? What happens if I don’t?

Yes, you do have to complete the entire application. If you turn in a half-finished application, you will not have a very good chance of getting into the Academy.

When should I get teacher recommendations?

Ask your teachers to write applications before Winter break. This way, they have plenty of time to write them over the break from school.

What is the interview like? When will they happen?

Interviews happen with six students at a time in order to relieve pressure. This is both a blessing and a curse. What tends to happen is that the students agree with the first person who spoke, so there is no way to tell who is really interested in what. Try to think of things you want to say before you go into the interview.

Interviews for 2015 will happen on the second week of February.

When are the applications due?

Applications are due on January 30th. If there is a snow day, the applications are due the next day you have school.

How should I turn in my applications?

There are several ways to turn in an application. You can turn them into your guidance counselor or bring them to the front office of Monticello. You can also mail them to the school or fax them to Ms. Dudley. Pick the one that is most convenient for you.

What if my application is late (not including snow days)?

If your application is late, it goes straight to the special filing cabinet called the trash bin. Seriously, no one will look at it. Get those applications in on time!

When will I know whether I got in or not?

You should hear back from the Heads of HMSA around March 6th. If you get accepted, then you will need to confirm or deny your acceptance.

Will everyone get accepted into the Academy?

No, especially not in the year 2015. It looks like it is going to be the biggest year yet.

If I want to join the Academy in a later year, can I?

Under certain circumstances, you can join the Academy late. If you have taken Honors Biology already, then it would be harder to fit you into the curriculum at a later year because your Biology credit would be worthless. If you took Earth Science or Chemistry, then it would be easier to work you into the Academy because you could take the integrated Biology class.

Talk to Ms. Dudley about this and she’ll decide whether it would hurt you or help you to join the Academy.

If I am not fitting in with the Academy life, can I quit?

Yes, you can quit at any time. You are not obligated to stay in HMSA if you feel you don’t fit in. Even if you decide that health and medicine is not your thing, you can stay in the Academy.

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