Exploring Medicine as a Career Choice

By Piccininni, Ann | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 6, 2006 | Go to article overview

Exploring Medicine as a Career Choice


Piccininni, Ann, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Ann Piccininni Daily Herald Correspondent

Is a medical career in these teens' future?

There will be blood. There will be infectious disease. There will be excruciatingly tough decisions to make, human emotions to navigate, new techniques and concepts to learn. And there will be tests.

All that before you get to put an M.D. after your name.

Still interested? Then maybe a career as a doctor is the right choice.

Such eye-opening medical school realities recently were introduced to 28 Naperville Central High School students through Mini-Medical School for High School Students, presented at Edward Hospital by Dr. Ira Rubin, the hospital's pediatrics department chairman.

"It lets you know ahead of time what you're getting yourself into if you're going to go into medical school," senior Christine Groesbeck said.

Rubin, who earned his medical degree at the University of Chicago, said his mini-med school is designed to give teens who show a strong interest in and aptitude for medicine a closer look at the steps necessary to become a physician or surgeon.

"Each one of your children was hand-selected by me because I felt they would get a lot out of the program," Rubin told parents at the recent graduation ceremony. "I only take people who tell me they're interested in being in medicine. I think a lot of the kids here will get there. I have no doubt."

Students selected for mini-medical school must be in the top 10 percent of their class, have a teacher recommendation and favorably impress Rubin during an interview.

Once they get in, they go through six 3-hour sessions that give them a survey of medical school curriculum and a look at admission requirements. There's a section on biochemistry, cellular biology, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, pharmacology and pathology.

They also get background in medical basics, such as how to make an initial assessment on a patient.

"We got a chance to practice on each other," Naperville Central senior Andrew Russeau said. "It's been a lot of fun. I enjoyed it a lot - the hands-on experiences, the presentations (Dr. Rubin) gave and the videos we watched."

One video screened during the final session showed a montage of classroom activities from the previous five sessions. There are students bandaging each other, examining ear canals, casting faux fractures. And they are pretending to stitch each other up, smiles on everyone, including the "patients."

During the final session , Rubin also took the class through a series of rotations, from surgery to dermatology to family practice.

Each time, the class encountered another case, a fictitious patient with a medical history and a set of symptoms.

There was an infant with a history of a congenital lung lesion, removed soon after birth, who couldn't stop coughing, except when she was in the presence of the doctor. The case was based on a real-life incident, Rubin said.

Two other doctors had dismissed the problem as a cold, an upper respiratory infection, he said. Her mother was seeking a third opinion.

"Do you trust the mother's opinion that she's been coughing or do you trust the previous doctors?" he asked his students.

The students discovered that the baby's mother was asked to videotape the coughing child. They watched intently as the baby violently coughed and almost seemed to choke.

"Who knows what causes a lot of coughing in babies that's been in Naperville for the past few years?" Rubin queried.

"Whooping cough," a student offered.

Rubin confirmed that whooping cough, a disease that left untreated could be life-threatening, was indeed the correct diagnosis.

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