Medical students for a day

Area high schoolers get a taste of daily life at UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Garrett Kovar

Garrett Kovar (center with simulated baby), a junior at Red River High School, takes his turn making rounds at UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ “A Day in the Life of a Medical Student.” Photo by Richard Larson.

Stanch blood loss from a motorcycle accident victim. Check.

Deliver a baby. Check.

Examine a healthy baby. Check.

Perform emergency procedures on a patient with diabetic ketoacidosis. Check.

“A Day in the Life of a Medical Student” program at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences gave Red River and Grand Forks Central High School students a taste of medical school.

They used the School’s patient-centered-learning curriculum as they reviewed patient cases and were part of the medical team in exam rooms with patient simulators. They ended the day with a case wrap-up on diabetic ketoacidosis presented by Dr. Eric Johnson, associate professor of family and community medicine. A diabetes specialist who also has type 1 diabetes, Johnson spoke with students from the perspective of both physician and patient.

The message: At UND, medical students learn about the whole person.

Eric Johnson

Area high school students who took part in a recent program at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences called “A Day in the Life of a Medical Student” ended their day on campus with a case wrap-up on diabetic ketoacidosis presented by Dr. Eric Johnson, associate professor of family and community medicine. Johnson, a diabetes specialist who also has type 1 diabetes, spoke with students from the perspective of both physician and patient. Photo by Richard Larson.

“I thought it was awesome,” said Alexis Welsh, a junior at Red River who is interested in the health care field. “I loved how hands-on the program was, and getting to work with the simulators and doing a case study. Seeing the process of learning the case study, then walking into the room with the simulators was great.”

“It was really cool to see the simulators,” said Garrett Kovar, a junior from Red River High School. “You get a better sense of what it would be like in a real-life situation instead of being in the classroom.”

“I wish there were more opportunities like this,” said Trevor Weiland, a junior from Red River High School. “You can see what your options are.”

Passion for medicine

The program was planned and organized by Spencer Uetz and Conor Roche, both second-year medical students and members of the American Medical Student Association. They wanted to share their passion for medicine with high schoolers interested in the medical field.

“We want to train physicians who stay in North Dakota and practice here,” said Uetz, a native of West Fargo. “Getting students excited about medicine is the first step.

“There weren’t any programs in the area that focused on high school students,” said Uetz. “We wanted them to see what it’s like to be a medical student and offer a hands-on experience. We are in this beautiful building that’s funded by the tax dollars of parents of these kids, and want to show it off. We wanted the students to get excited about medicine and technology.”

“Students asked good questions – the kind we get from usual case wrap-ups with medical students,” said Johnson. “The series of activities show how connected and threaded the curriculum is. The first week, medical students learn the biochemistry and physiology of a real person. I hope these students saw that everything was linked.”

Patient-focused

“We focus on the patient and his or her needs,” said Roche, who is from Grand Forks. “That patient-centered focus is the best part of the curriculum. It’s an empathy generator. You can’t read a book and know how a patient feels. Patients are not defined by their medical condition. We see a person who has diabetes, not a diabetic.”

“I’m amazed at how much the students are participating thanks to the wonderful job by the medical students,” said Joyce Larson, career coordinator for Red River High School. “The medical students encouraged our students to take part and helped them feel comfortable brainstorming solutions to problems. They made them feel valued. Our students are eating this up and learning so much. They’re asking questions and actively participating. This just lights a fire for students who are interested. And seeing the simulations and case studies may help others realize earlier that the medical field may not be for them. It’s good to find out early and get an up-front, close look at different aspects of medicine.”

“We wanted to give back to the community,” said Roche. ”We wanted to introduce students to this beautiful building and great program while they’re still in high school. Even if they don’t go into medicine, they’ll always have this experience of having a great time here at UND.”