Last year, Neil Smith, D.O., President of Fairview Hospital, partnered with St. Ignatius and St. Joseph Academy to debut a six-week course that exposed high school students to the intriguing facets of medicine. After having success with both schools, Dr. Smith decided it was the perfect time to expand the course by teaming up with Magnificat High School.
Marilyn Arundel, Dean of Faculty and Academics at Magnificat High School, said she wasn’t surprised when they started receiving an overwhelming amount of responses from interested students after sending the invitation to participate in Dr. Smith’s Medical Explorations course.
“Our Students in Medicine Club has gained popularity over the last several years,” Marilyn said. “We have had students in all grades show an increased interest in finding out more about careers in the medical field.”
Fifty junior and senior students were selected to participate in a one-hour class every Wednesday for six weeks. The first class kicked off in February. Throughout the course, Dr. Smith gave students, who were divided into six teams, clues to solving a real patient diagnosis; much like you would expect to see in the television show, House. Each week, teams were given a new piece of the puzzle — from an initial description, to lab results, imaging, etc.
“While participating, students were extremely excited and engaged and intent on discovering the correct diagnoses for their patients which all teams accomplished successfully!” Marilyn said.
During the final class, teams presented their patient case and the diagnosis. The winning teams received gift cards, but more importantly gained an interest in learning more about medicine.
The purpose of the course is to expose students to the puzzle-solving nature of medicine. This shows them that medicine has little to do with chemistry or biology, but more to ascertaining and assimilating information. The response from the students has been extremely positive. Dr. Smith hopes to expand to other local high schools in the future.
“The thing I liked the most was working together with my team to figure out the diagnosis. It put both my medical skills and leadership to the test. Also, my biggest ‘take-away’ from the experience was proving to myself that I can work in the medical field if I put my mind to it.” – Grace, Class of 2020
“Even though most of the clues that we were given pointed to a certain diagnosis, one clue/symptom can make all the difference and change your whole thought and diagnosis.” – Maeghan, Class of 2020
“I really loved how this was such an interactive program. I was not expecting that aspect. Also, I liked how we were able to work with our peers to figure out the diagnosis.” – Grace, Class of 2018
“It was amazing to me to learn about how even the smallest differentiations in a patient’s vitals can greatly impact their health, both physical and mental. I learned the importance of piecing together the “puzzle” of a person’s medical state, and how each component of a patient’s health is crucial in the process of diagnosis.” – Maeve, Class of 2018