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Established in 2008, PULSE (Pre-health program for Underrepresented Leaders in STEM Education) is Penn State College of Medicine’s educational outreach program for high school students passionate about the biomedical sciences. PULSE, operated as a medical student interest group, is a semester-long (12-week) academic program offered at Penn State College of Medicine. PULSE aims to cultivate interest in medicine, biomedical science and health care systems science by introducing passionate learners to medical students, biomedical researchers and practicing clinicians.

The PULSE program features a different topic in medicine each year. However, there are consistent components of the program, such as lecture, professional development and mentorship. The program is not eligible for high school or college credit at this time. High school students may have the opportunity to earn extra credit at the discretion of their school staff.

Any student interested in science/medicine who will be in grades 9-12 at the start of the program can apply to PULSE. (Current 8th-grade students are able to apply because they will be in high school by the start of the program; current seniors in high school cannot apply because they will have graduated by the start of the program.)


  • To supplement student science education with a quality, 12-week longitudinal curriculum
  • To foster the interests of high school students from surrounding communities through interactive lectures, problem-based learning sessions and clinical shadowing opportunities.
  • To enrich high school students’ current approaches in acquiring knowledge in scientific endeavors.
  • To enhance critical thinking skills and foster independence.
  • To provide important information for educational options and career paths in health care.
  • To empower Penn State students to act as mentors and educational leaders.
  • To encourage active participation of underrepresented groups in medicine by providing mentors and instructors with whom they can identify.

College of Medicine students

PULSE remains active throughout the year and encourages involvement of medical, PA, nursing and graduate students. Students who would like to learn more about the organization or get involved, should contact any of the officers listed below.

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General information

About the Program Expand answer

Course structure:

  • Meets on scheduled Mondays, 4 to 6 p.m.
    • Lecture
    • Problem-based learning session
    • Longitudinal mentorship session

Typical activities include:

  • Small group learning opportunities
  • Health professions career panel
  • Discussions about college and career preparation:
    • College selection process, SAT/ACT and essay tips, science major information


  • College of Medicine Lecture Room
    GPS address:
    700 HMC Crescent Road
    Hershey, PA 17033
    (No. 14 on the Campus Map)
  • Parking is available in the Centerview Parking Garage (No. 7 on the map) and Westview Parking Garage (No. 27 on the map)
  • Once in the main building (see “Directions to Lecture Room” below), watch for signs and PULSE representatives to assist with directions.
Application Expand answer

Application Evaluation

PULSE is a competitive program. Applications will be evaluated on responses to the short essay questions. Details from the application are removed and short essays are scored by reviewers on a scale of 1 to 10. Points are tallied for each student and the slots are filled from highest scoring applications. In the event of a tie for the final remaining slots, students who have never participated in PULSE and/or are entering their final two years of high school will be prioritized over applicants who have previously participated in PULSE or are entering their first two years of high school. This will help ensure equity of access. Students who have comparable scores will be placed on a waitlist and may be offered a spot in the event that some accepted students are unable to participate in the program. To allow as many students as possible to participate, students who have participated in two prior PULSE cycles are not eligible for participation.

The PULSE application typically goes live in March for the following academic year. Check back then for more information!

Leadership Expand answer


Board of Directors

Schedule Expand answer

PULSE generally meets on Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m., beginning the Monday after Labor Day and ending the second week in December. There is no class on Indigenous People’s Day (or noted as Columbus Day on many school calendars), or the Monday before Thanksgiving. Attendance and participation are important – participants should aim to be present for all sessions.