Teens Find Out What Medical School is Like
Mar 31, 2012 - 2:41:14 PM
Lariel Mateo-Bautista,a student at Westmoor High School, listens to a mannequin's heart during a session on "virtual" medicine at Med School 101.
(HealthNewsDigeswt.com) - The patient, Lance, was worried: Would he be able to ride, he asked, in a bicycle race the following week? He’d been hit by a car and was now in the emergency room, where technicians were busy checking his vitals.
They had removed a bandage from his shin to find a gaping, bloody hole that showed the tibia fractured in two. “It’s broken,” answered Francisco Morales, a member of the team gathered around his bed. “You won’t be riding your bike for a while.”
“Lance,” a mannequin voiced by Joseph Phillips of the School of Medicine’s Immersive Learning Center, was playing patient to a group of “technicians,” high school students participating in the school’s annual Med School 101 event. Just like medical students, they were learning how to treat trauma victims by practicing on a patient simulator.
They observed his breathing, hooked him up to a heart monitor and checked his pulse. And they tried to reassure him when he asked questions. Part of the healing process, explained simulationist Teresa Roman-Micek, requires addressing the patient’s concerns.
“I know you’re in pain,” said Lariel Mateo-Bautista, a sophomore at Westmoor High School in Daly City. “We’re going to make you better.”
About 150 students from eight local high schools attended the March 23 event at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge. The daylong gathering, organized by the Office of Communication & Public Affairs and sponsored by Stanford Hospital & Clinics, is designed to help Bay Area teens learn about medical school, Stanford and science.
Most of the participants are thinking of careers in medicine or related fields, like Morales, a junior at Gunn High School in Palo Alto. “Ever since I was little, I was interested in chemistry and things like that, so I figured I would come and see,” he said. “It’ll help me make a decision about where to go to college, what I’d like to study.”
Clarence Braddock, MD, MPH, associate dean for medical education, welcomed them to the event by describing his own path to medicine. “I’m a tiny bit embarrassed to say I was inspired by TV shows,” he admitted, but added that volunteering as a high school student at a hospital, where he helped patients into wheelchairs and brought them sodas, gave him a sense of the reward of working with people who are vulnerable.
That reward can come from treating patients, he noted, or from research — “doing something to help people tomorrow.”
Becoming a doctor is a long and challenging process, Braddock acknowledged. “It’s demanding, but it’s doable. It is a long journey, but the journey is its own reward.”
Just make sure it’s your own journey, emphasized Charles Prober, MD, senior associate dean for medical education. In his talk, “So You Wanna Go to Med School?” he cautioned the high school students against attending medical school to satisfy others’ expectations.
Push back at those who pressure you, he urged, because if it’s not what you want, you won’t be good at the job, and you won’t be happy.
That wasn’t the case for Jayakar Nayak, MD, PhD, assistant professor of otolaryngology, who said the 19 years of education after high school to become a nasal surgeon were worth it. “I wouldn’t do anything else,” he told the students. His talk at Med School 101 described innovative surgery performed through the nostril.
“You never know what you’re going to see when you look up the nose,” Nayak said, describing some of his cases: a broken septum, a lost sense of smell, a brain tumor. He treats these conditions by inserting into the nostrils flexible tubes with cameras on the end, which display the cavities of the head on a screen in the operating room. “You’re kind of playing a video game all day,” he said.
The images of Nayak’s surgeries impressed Taelor Coon, a junior at Notre Dame High School in Belmont. “I love science and I’m really interested in medicine,” she said, adding that she’s fascinated by recent advancements in the field.
Some 150 students from eight area high schools attended Med School 101.
Possibly the coolest toy of the day was the virtual anatomy table, which resembles a 6-foot-long iPad. The students witnessed it in the basement of the Center for Clinical Sciences Research, where medical students perform cadaver dissections and a faint smell of formaldehyde fills the hallways.
As students gathered around the table, a skeleton filled the screen. Then Paul Brown, DDS, consulting associate professor of surgery, called up a menu and started adding anatomical systems: nerves, muscles, organs and, finally, skin. He rotated the image front to back and top to bottom, so the students could view the body at various angles.
When Brown showed a blown-up image of an arm, A.J. Turley, a junior at Terra Nova High School in Pacifica who wants to be a physical therapist, mentioned that he broke both forearm bones, the ulna and the radius in a skateboarding accident.
“I bet you were pretty laid up,” Brown said, demonstrating how the bones work together to direct the arm’s movement.
Brown then showed an image of conjoined twins, connected at the sternum, who were recently separated at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. The images allowed surgeons to plan the delicate operation.
The students also played with regular-sized iPads, with an anatomical image app and even View-Masters, which displayed 3D images of the inside of a head. These tools complement dissection of cadavers, explained Sakti Srivastava, MD, associate professor of surgery and division chief of clinical anatomy, because they allow medical students to view just the muscles, for example, or just the nervous system, which is impossible in a real body.
Such intricate anatomical knowledge helps physicians make the sort of life-or-death decisions facing the students gathered around Lance. When his skin began turning blue and his heart monitor went haywire, Morales applied an automated external defibrillator and shocked the bicycle racer’s heart back into rhythm.
The thrill of treating a patient, even a simulated one, “opened up more job options I hadn’t even thought of before, like working in an emergency room,” said Yessenia Magallanes, a freshman at Westmoor.
Mandy Erickson is a freelance writer and editor in the Bay Area.
Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at http://mednews.stanford.edu/.
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