Embark Colloquium for OUWB Class of 2024 published online
An image of Josh France and his family on Match Day
Josh France and his family celebrate Match Day at Oakland University on March 15, 2024. France’s Embark project was named Kenneth J. Matzick Embark Program Competitive Scholarship, Manuscript of the Year 2023.

When Josh France graduates from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine on Friday, he’ll leave the school with more than a medical degree thanks to a program called Embark.

Specifically, France will take with him four years’ worth of research experience that lays the groundwork for continued scholarship as a physician.

That’s because Embark is a four-year longitudinal curriculum that consists of structured coursework in research design and implementation, compliance training, research communication, and scholarly presentation, with protected time to develop mentored projects in a wide-range of community and health-related settings. It’s an OUWB requirement and the work done on these projects by the OUWB Class of 2024 can now be found here.

France’s Embark project — Determination of Pad Placement with X-ray Guidance on Cardioversion Success: An Observational Study — was named Kenneth J. Matzick Embark Program Competitive Scholarship, Manuscript of the Year 2023. Perhaps most importantly, it sparked an interest in pursuing other research projects.

“It’s become a hobby of mine…I really love working on (research),” said France.

“I’ll also help other students on their projects and other manuscripts, too.”

France’s response is exactly the kind that OUWB officials strive for with Embark, said Kara Sawarynski, Ph.D., assistant dean for Accreditation and Continuous Quality Improvement and co-director, Embark.

“We hope that through their participation in the Embark program, students have not only deepened their understanding of the research process but also honed key skills such as effective communication, project management, and collaborative teamwork across discipline,” she said.  

“Additionally, by encouraging students to follow their passions when choosing an Embark project, we believe that regardless of the success of the project itself (as research doesn’t always go as planned), each students’ experience will be invaluable as they continue to advance in their careers and scholarly pursuits.”

An image that announces the Embark Colloquium is now availableSo far, Embark projects by the OUWB Class of 2024 have accounted for 95 presentations and awards, as well as 33 manuscripts that are under review or have been published.

Among those already published, for example, is “Catholic Hospitals Should Permit Physicians to Provide Emergency Contraception to Rape Victims as an Act of Conscientious Provision.” The project was led by Marlee Mason-Maready, M4, with co-authors Victoria Whiting, M4, and Abram Brummett, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies.

The work was published in The Linacre Quarterly, the peer-reviewed, official academic journal of the Catholic Medical Association.

Mason-Maready said she was “really happy with how it turned out.” Whiting called it a true “passion project.”

Another example of a published Embark project is “Relationships Between the Number of Chaplain Visits and Patient Characteristics: A Retrospective Review of a Large Suburban Midwest Hospital, USA.” Published in the Journal of Religion and Health, the project was done by Sarah Toates, M4, and Ven. Kevin Hickey, who manages a group of eight chaplains at Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital in Royal Oak.

Toates said she’s grateful for the experience, has a deeper understanding of the role that chaplains play on the health care team, and a greater appreciation for the fact that “patients think a lot about ...their faith.”

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“Like their predecessors, this year's graduates have aligned their projects with their personal passions, demonstrating exceptional adaptability in overcoming challenges presented during their research — especially those present during the early stages of their projects and many beginning during the height of the pandemic,” said Sawarynski.

She said that presenting the work of the Class of 2024 in an online, digital format enables the school to share the students’ accomplishments with family, friends, and mentors from OUWB, OU, and Corewell Health, regardless of physical location.

“We are excited about the potential for sparking shared interests, fostering collaborative ideas, and inspiring future Embark projects through access to the colloquium site,” she said. “We also hope that our first through third-year medical students, as well as other viewers, find the innovative research and efforts of this year's class as inspiring as we do.”

France, who matched in March in internal medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said it was his top choice for various reasons, including its research track.

It’s quite a change for him, especially because before OUWB he “hadn’t really done any research” and didn’t know what to expect from the Embark experience.

That all changed once he identified a project and started working closely with his mentor, Nishaki Mehta, M.D., a cardiologist at Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital and OUWB clinical faculty.

The OUWB commencement for Class of 2024 is set for 2 p.m., May 10, at the OU Credit Union O’rena. More details, including a livestream link at the time of the event, can be found here.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.