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At Med School 101, teens learn that it’s “so cool to be a doctor”

At Med School 101, teens learn that it's "so cool to be a doctor"

Students exam brain of animals during the brain lab session at Medicine on the sidelines at Med School 101 at Stanford University School of Medicine on Friday, March 28, 2014. ( Norbert von der Groeben/ Stanford School of Medicine )

“I was once in high school,” anesthesiologist Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, told a roomful of ninth-through-twelfth-graders Friday at Med School 101. Now he runs a large NIH-funded lab, takes care of patients, makes scientific discoveries, and helps people get better. Mackey delivered his talk on pain and the brain to the aspiring medical professionals at a high level. “This is the same talk that I give a national audience of experts,” he said – for his younger audience he just explains the jargon. And he includes clips from The Princess Bride, selected with the help of his 17-year-old son, to illustrate certain pain points.

Classes at Med School 101 tend to swing this way – with the instructors not mincing science while still making learning about medicine as fun as it is. In its eighth year, Med School 101 drew 140 students from 10 local high schools to Stanford’s Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge to try on white coats, so to speak. Ann Weinacker, MD, chief of staff at Stanford Hospital & Clinics, welcomed students in the morning and shared, “It is so cool to be a doctor.”

Sleep expert Rafael Pelayo, MD, explained to the students attending his lecture why we sleep and outlined some common sleep disorders in adults and children and how medical science has addressed them. “When I started at Stanford 20 years ago, we didn’t know what caused narcolepsy,” Pelayo said. “Now we know it’s an autoimmune disease.”

For her session on global health, Sherry Wren, MD, a professor of surgery, talked about her experience volunteering with Doctors Without Borders in Africa. She caught students’ attention with some sobering statistics: Only 3.5 percent of surgeries worldwide are done in low-income countries; 2 billion people have no access to surgery; and in Africa alone, 42 million people presently have problems that could be treated by surgery.

In the ever-popular session, “So you want to go to med school?” with Charles Prober, MD, senior associate dean of medical education, students named different specialties within medicine and Prober explained their functions and sub-specialties. Questions on preparing for a career in medicine, and on what it takes to get into a good medical school, flowed, with Prober telling the students that the name of their college doesn’t matter as much as what they do there. (Check out the @SUMedicine Twitter feed and the hashtag #SUMed101 for more.)

While Prober mentioned the “big three” list of uses for an MD – patient care, research and education – many of the presenting faculty described other ways to be involved in health care, including public health, nursing, and physician assistant roles.

One young lady told me she was in seventh grade when she got the idea that she might want to be a doctor, but really solidified her plans in eighth grade. Where is she now? “Ninth grade.”

Previously: Med School 101 kicks off on Stanford campus todayLive tweeting sessions at Stanford’s Med School 101Bay Area students get a front-row seat to practicing medicine, scientific research and A quick primer on getting into medical school
Photo, of students in a brain-focused session, by Norbert von der Groeben

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