High School Students Seeking Medical Careers Learn on High Tech “Patients”

Students take part in “Doc for a Day” at the MedStar Health Simulation Training & Education Lab (SiTEL) in Washington, D.C. MedStar and Montgomery Blair High School have an ongoing partnership that provides career exposure to students interested in medicine.

April 24, 2013

Teens are “Docs for a Day” at MedStar Health’s D.C. Clinical Simulation Lab

(Washington, D.C.) – “Can you hear me sir? There’s no heartbeat! Get help! We have a code blue!”

“SimMan” came in with chest pain, clutching his chest. Now students crowded around his gurney have to decide in a heartbeat what to do next.

Advanced Cardiac Life Support Instructor Charles Douglass prompts, “The heart is quivering. You need to restart the heart. What kind of medication might you give now?”

“Epinephrine!” someone shouts.

The “doctor” is actually a 17 year-old student from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. The “patient” is computerized mannequin with a pre-programmed voice and vital signs controlled by an instructor.

The students are taking part in “Doc for a Day” at the MedStar Health Simulation Training & Education Lab (SiTEL) in Washington, D.C. MedStar and Montgomery Blair High School have an ongoing partnership that provides career exposure to students interested in medicine.

“The human patient simulators have the same characteristics as humans,” said Stephen Hurst, operations manager of the Clinical Simulation Center for the D.C., region. “The only difference is that these ‘patients’ are computerized. Students are trained to respond to a patient having a heart attack, or they can train for airway emergencies like allergic reactions and difficulty breathing. The patient simulators also have a vital sign monitor so students can follow their heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate.”

Students are able to take a pulse, give medication, perform CPR and even shock the patient simulator’s “heart” with an Automated External Defibrillator or AED.

“These simulations give students an experience they couldn’t possibly get in a classroom,” said Blair STEM director and anatomy teacher John Haigh, III.

“This is a really good experience,” said Muzaffar Hussain, a Blair student who wants to be a physician. “You can always study this stuff in books but it’s another thing to be hands-on as if the situations and people are real.”

In another section of the Sim Center students practice CPR techniques on mannequins and in another, they learn the basics of surgical knot tying.

“Learning how to tie knots and suture was my favorite thing,” said Caroline Nowak, a student also interested in a medical career.

One of the main purposes of the SiTEL Simulation Center is to provide education and training to health care practitioners within MedStar Health.

“Doc for a Day” is offered to younger students still deciding if medicine is right for them.“Within the STEM Academy medical professions are the highest interest group for our students. For many of them this will be the only experience like this they’ll get until after college,” said Haigh. “It’s also interesting for students to see how doctors and nurses train and continually re-up their training.”

Students also worked hands-on with laparoscopic surgery trainers—the same ones that developing surgeons use to become board certified.

“Before today I wasn’t sure what field of medicine I wanted to go into,” said Austin Bacon, another Blair student. “After trying the laparoscopic simulators I think maybe I’d like to go into general surgery.”

"Education is one of our important missions,” said Hurst. “We hope this will inspire in students a thirst for knowledge and will help them connect the dots to a medical career. These simulations show students not only what their training could be like in the future, but also what it could be like to treat real patients. To see them so excited about this is really great.”

About MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is a not-for-profit, acute-care teaching and research hospital with 609 beds located in Northwest Washington, D.C. Founded in the Jesuit principle of cura personalis—caring for the whole person—MedStar Georgetown is committed to offering a variety of innovative diagnostic and treatment options within a trusting and compassionate environment.

MedStar Georgetown’s centers of excellence include neurosciences, transplant, cancer and gastroenterology. Along with Magnet® nurses, internationally recognized physicians, advanced research and cutting-edge technologies, MedStar Georgetown’s healthcare professionals have a reputation for medical excellence and leadership. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital—Knowledge and Compassion Focused on You.

About MedStar Health

MedStar Health combines the best aspects of academic medicine, research and innovation with a complete spectrum of clinical services to advance patient care. As the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, MedStar’s 10 hospitals, the MedStar Health Research Institute and a comprehensive scope of health-related organizations are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. MedStar has one of the largest graduate medical education programs in the country, training more than 1,100 medical residents annually, and is the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University. MedStar Health is a $4.5 billion not-for-profit, regional healthcare system based in Columbia, Maryland, and one of the largest employers in the region. Its almost 30,000 associates and 6,000 affiliated physicians all support MedStar Health’s Patient First philosophy that combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. 

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