Seven medical students from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine recently volunteered to help teach nearly 600 local middle schoolers about careers in health care.

OUWB med students teach nearly 600 area middle schoolers about health care careers
Oakland School Presentation 2021
Ryan Ko, M1, (upper right), and Carson Wilmouth, M1, were two of the OUWB students who presented during Oakland Schools' Careers in Healthcare event. The two talked to middle schoolers about surgery and careers related to surgery.

Eleven medical students from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine recently volunteered to help teach nearly 600 local middle schoolers about careers in health care.

Oakland Schools hosted its second Careers in Healthcare event held March 9-10. The event aimed to provide middle school students from several area school districts with opportunities to increase awareness of health care career options. All sessions were held online this year.

The 11 medical students from OUWB were among a total of 27 presenters. The students were Ryan Ko, M1, Carson Wilmouth, M1, Urvashi Singh, M1, Camila Joy Ramos, M1, Dinasha Dahanayake, M1, Mehak Ahmed, M1, Adel Andemeskel, M1, Camilla Cascardo, M2, Mitch Pfennig, M2, Mary Najjar, M2, Charlene Hsia, M2.

“Reaching out to younger students can be really impactful,” said Ko. “Talking to students for 30 minutes might seem minor, but some of those experiences are what led me to medicine. It’s what hopefully will lead other people to find their careers later on, too.”

Patty Adolfs, K-12 Career Readiness Consultant, Oakland Schools — the organizer and host of the event — said middle school-aged students are at the right age for such discussions to be taking place. The reason, she said, is that the students will soon be selecting high school classes that pertain to their respective post-secondary educations.

“For them to be able to get into the classes they need early is extremely important,” she said.

Medical students also generally serve as great role models for the students.

“It’s not a parent, it’s not a teacher…it’s a pretty young person that they can really connect with and help them believe in themselves,” she said.

Ko and Wilmouth presented via their association with OUWB’s Robert J. Lucas Surgical Society (RJLSS) — a student interest group centered on surgery — as did Cascardo and Pfennig.

RJLSS-related presentations focused on surgery: definition of surgery, what does an operating room look like; the different types of surgeons; skills useful for surgeons; how to become a surgeon; non-surgeon jobs related to surgery; and more.

Wilmouth said the students were very engaged with the presentation.

“They were mostly curious about the path to becoming a surgeon,” she said. “They were also interested in our daily lives as medical students…did we have time to do things other than medical school was a popular topic.”

Ramos, Dahanayake, Ahmed, and Andemeskel represented OUWB's Student National Medical Association (SNMA). Their presentation was titled, "Life of a Medical Student."

Najjar, Hsia, and Singh presented on behalf of OUWB’s Mental Health and Psychiatry Interest Group. The Mental Health and Psychiatry Interest Group focused on defining the specialty; why mental health is important; how individuals become psychiatrists; skills needed to be in a mental health-related field; and various other careers related to mental health.

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Hsia said she wanted to get involved to help dispel myths people have about mental health, especially at a young age.

“My hope is that the students took away a better idea of how many different health care fields an individual can get involved in if considering a career in mental health,” she said. “I also wanted them to get a better understand of what it means to go to medical school.”

She also generally viewed it as a great way to get involved.

“It’s important to be an active and engaged member of your community and this is a perfect way to do that,” she said.

Najjar expressed similar feelings, and said she hoped the students learned something valuable about mental health.

“Being able to talk to the kids and kindly inform them on what mental health is and draw attention to it is something that I didn’t really get as a kid,” she said. “When I was that age, I was having really bad anxiety and I didn’t even know it. Being able to identify that for myself has had drastic influence over how I can control it.”

Adolfs said it was the first year OUWB medical students have been involved in the program and that she hopes it isn’t the last.

“(OUWB medical students) did an amazing job,” she said. “They were very professional, but they had fun and you could tell they were enjoying it.”

Along with OUWB and Oakland Schools, event participants and/or sponsors were OU-Pontiac Initiative, Oakland University, Henry Ford Hospital – West Bloomfield, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ross University School of Medicine, and dental hygienist programs at University of Detroit-Mercy and Oakland Community College.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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