Medical students introduce youths to medicine

OUWB faculty members and medical students teamed up to showcase the medical profession to 90 students from Oakland County-area high schools. The “Future Doc Day” was hosted by the student chapter of AMWA (American Medical Women’s Association) and introduced the students to OUWB and its unique curriculum through hands-on presentations with plasticized human anatomy specimens.

At the seminar, Vice Chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Professor of Neuroscience and Anatomy Doug Gould, Ph.D., explained the function of the human brain. When he heard the students describe the brain as “wrinkly” he explained that the wrinkles are actually convolutions made of sulci and gyri that make up the surface area of neurons in the brain. Using the anatomical specimens to illustrate, Gould showed the students the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease and showed them where brain damage occurs in people who suffer a stroke.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences Assistant Professor Stefanie Attardi, Ph.D. leads a group discussion using bone specimens to help her clarify the lesson.

“Only a very small percentage of the population ever gets to see, touch and interact with human specimens; it allows them a 'peek' into a very special world, which may increase their interest in pursuing some sort of health science as a career,” says Gould. “In health science education, we are always committed to promoting STEMM (Science Technology, Engineering, Math, Medicine) and efforts such as these are part of that larger goal.”

Exploring a future in medicine

The visitors also attended an interactive medical student panel, focusing on the personal paths to medical school and highlighting the different routes high school students can take and still be successful. The panelists also talked about volunteer experiences they enjoyed while in high school and undergrad to emphasize the importance of exploring interests that continue as they attend college and establish careers. Finally, they opened it up to questions about medical school to help describe what medical school was like.

“AWMA at OUWB wants to encourage the youth in pursuing careers in medicine and provide mentorship to high school students who may not be exposed to the health care field,” says Megan Miller, M1 student and AMWA member who organized Future Doc Day.

Miller says that they have found that many high school students are curious about medicine, but these students are not sure how to access more information. AMWA wants to bridge that gap for these students as they know first-hand that the road to medical school requires planning.

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AMWA members (from L to R) Lauren Foster, Rima Rida, Megan Miller and Karen Fernandes assisted in planning “Future Doc Day.”

“I have done these types of events for a many years and beyond the 'ooooh and aaaah' effect you always get with actual specimens, these students were genuinely appreciative and engaged,” says Gould. “There was no chatting with friends or glancing at cell phones during the presentations. They had many excellent questions. They were respectful and attentive, even towards the end of the four-hour day.”

The Biomedical Sciences faculty members enjoyed the opportunity to share their expertise, hoping to bolster the students’ budding interest in medicine so that perhaps they would someday be instructing them as medical students at OUWB.