LAKEWOOD RANCH — As Alex Bowman sat with his leg propped up on a chair, Braden River High School student Netasha Khan knelt before him, steadying a thick fold of papers over his shin.
Two other students hovered over Bowman’s leg, as well, wrapping long pieces of fabric around the paper Khan held in place. In just moments, the leg splint was secure.
They and other high school students from Sarasota and Manatee counties and around the country gathered June 11 to June 22, at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Lakewood Ranch campus for the school’s fifth annual Medical Science Academy.
“I just wanted to experience what it feels like to be a medical student,” said Kahn, who hopes to become a pediatrician one day. “Everything has been fun. I’ve learned a lot.”
Dr. Russell Sexton, director of community service for LECOM and academy facilitator, said the two-week event was intended to give high school students a first-hand look at being a first-year medical school student at LECOM.
Students spent the first week of the academy learning about first aid, handling case studies and experiencing other medical student lessons. During the second portion of the academy, however, students went off campus to shadow third- and fourth-year medical students who were participating in clinical rotations at local medical facilities.
“We try to simulate learning situations that our medical students experience,” Sexton said. “We’re giving them a little sampler.”
Morgan Pyne, a Lakewood Ranch High School graduate, who now is a student at LECOM, helped with the academy.
“Coming here is a really good (opportunity) to make sure it’s something you want to do,” she said of how it benefits participants. “It gives you a better understanding (of what to expect).”
For many students, the experience simply reinvigorated their desire to pursue medicine full time. For others, it helped them realize another career may be a better fit. Mckenzie Earley, an incoming senior at Lakewood Ranch High School, was one of the latter.
After suturing a pig’s leg, she realized life as a pharmacist or other health-care professional may be a better choice for her than becoming a physician, she said.
“It wasn’t gross,” Earley said with a shrug. “It was just so detail-oriented.”
During the school year, LECOM also offers a program called Human Body Explored, which is a comparative anatomy/physiology course designed students ages 14 to 18, who are interested in a career in health care. Students meet once monthly October through May for the basic course.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].