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Teens interested in medicine encouraged to "think beyond the obvious"

A career in medicine can mean other things than a white coat.

That was one of the themes that emerged from our Med School 101 event, during which 150 enthusiastic high-school students came to campus last Friday for a series of medical programs and lectures. The event was designed to show off our cool stuff and pique interest in medicine or science.

While welcoming the Bay Area high-schoolers - more than half of whom threw their hands in the air when asked who was already thinking of a future in medicine - Dean Philip Pizzo, MD, told them patient care is an important part of the medical profession. But an MD can also offer diverse career options, such as stints in writing, government, law or entrepreneurship (among others). "Think about the big picture that goes beyond the obvious," he encouraged.

Somewhat appropriately, the teens were treated to presentations not only from clinicians and surgeons but from people taking not-strictly-clinical paths: physician-inventors from the Stanford biodesign program, experts from our simulation center, and a graduate student who recently helped teach a med-school course on personal genetics.

The presenters come from different backgrounds and do very different things, but they all share a passion for their work and the desire to share their knowledge. (Year after year, I'm heartened by the number of faculty, researchers and students willing to take time out of their busy schedules to present at our event.) I have to believe some of their enthusiasm and dedication rubbed off on the high-schoolers.

Towards the end of his remarks, Pizzo told the teens he was inspired as a young man to go into medicine largely by a few books. My guess is that kids growing up in this on-the-go, always-wired, need-for-instant-gratification era are more likely to be inspired by seeing and doing than by reading. And I just hope that at least a few of Friday's participants will be inspired enough by what they saw and did to go on to do some very great things as adults.

Previously: High-school students get a taste of med school

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