Sitting in the front row of a demonstration Monday was a local pair who plans to be a fixture on the campus of Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in the near future.
Lakeside High School rising juniors Alexis Rumbaugh and Brittany Saxon were among 28 high school and college students from across the state who are taking part this week in the Health Sciences Academy.
The course is designed to bring students who are interested in careers in the medical field to campus and give them a wide variety of experiences, said Denise Kornegay, executive director of the statewide Area Health Education Centers and associate dean at MCG.
“The more we can give people real-life experiences early on, the better choices they make and the better investments they make” in education, she said. “It’s really helping students make smart choices and demystifying what that means.”
Students may know about doctors and nurses and dentists, but not much about other health professions, Kornegay said.
“Until they actually get in there, they don’t realize there is occupational therapy, there’s physical therapy, physician assistants,” she said. “There is just a host of choices.”
For instance, one of the more popular and eye-opening courses in last summer’s academy was about epidemiology and tracing a disease outbreak, Kornegay said.
“They love looking at epidemiology and a lot of the graduate sciences,” she said. “Some of them just love science and really don’t love the idea of giving care, so (this serves) to show them there is a place for anyone in health care.”
In the front row were two students on different ends of the career-decision axis: Alexis, 17, and her friend, Brittany, 16. The daughter of a family medicine physician who specializes in wound care, Alexis has had the chance to see that side of it.
“I would like to view more of the other fields and be introduced to other things,” she said.
Brittany, who has also shadowed health care providers, already knows she wants to be an obstetrician/gynecologist.
“I love the fact that I can work with women and help solve problems,” she said. “I guess I’ve always had an interest in solving female problems from a very young age.”
What is not in doubt are their plans to attend MCG together.
“I’ve been telling her that she is actually my dorm-mate,” Rumbaugh joked. “She is not able to escape me. We’re best friends, so she can’t run too far.”
“No, I can’t,” Saxon said, laughing.
While there will be many experiences ahead, one of the first was a chance to gross them out. In one of the first hands-on sessions, the students got to watch an up-close video of a doctor removing a chronically ingrown toenail, which they practiced on a carrot with a nail attached. A later video showed cutting into and draining an abscess that oozed pus. This was the session right before lunch.
“If they want to go into the medical field, they’ll get used to it,” said the instructor, third-year family medicine resident Holly Mahoney.
Rumbaugh and Saxon Alexis and Brittany appeared unfazed.
“I’ve basically grown up with it,” Alexis said. “That’s when you know you are going to love the medical field, if you can still eat after all of this.”
“That is a really good test,” Brittany agreed.
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org