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Nathan Baker

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Minorities in Medicine: ETSU med school seeking to boost underrepresented populations

June 11th, 2014 9:02 am by Nathan Baker

Minorities in Medicine: ETSU med school seeking to boost underrepresented populations

Fourteen Hispanic high school students and college freshmen started Monday at the Simulated Medicine in Action camp in the medical college's simulation lab. (Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press)

A weeklong summer camp at the East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine hopes to draw underrepresented populations of students into the medical profession, which organizers say will help to increase the quality of care for patients locally.

Fourteen Hispanic high school students and college freshmen started Monday at the Simulated Medicine in Action camp in the medical college’s simulation lab.

Through the course of the week, the students will learn to read vital signs, physical exams, diagnosis, suturing, phlebotomy and the process of diagnosis.

Trained local actors will pose as patients and portray symptoms as the camp attendees attempt to diagnose the cause of the ailments.

Camp director and current medical student Allie Forth said the outreach program, in its second year, helps to foster an interest in medical professions in students who may already be leaning toward them and helps support those students in the years leading up to med school enrollment.

“There aren’t enough trained physicians practicing now, and studies have shown that people who attend medical school near their hometowns are more likely to practice in those areas after they graduate,” Forth said. “The Hispanic population is being underrepresented in the medical field locally, but the numbers of Spanish-speaking people are on the rise.

“Doctors who speak their patents’ native languages and share their cultures are better able to make connections with those patients and gain their trust.”

Many of the students at Monday’s camp came from Hamblen County, Forth said, followed by students at Science Hill High School.

Marisol Rangel, a rising senior from Morristown, said she enrolled in the program after encouragement from her school’s guidance counselor.

“We’ve already learned how to take pulses and work with patients,” Rangel said Monday afternoon, as her fellow students conducted a drill in the simulator lab. “It’s really hard, but it’s been really fun, too.”

Rangel said she originally planned to become a dental hygienist before attending the camp, but now changed her mind, and would like to pursue a vocation in the clinical field.

If the students do decide to enroll in Quillen, Forth said current students will be assigned to guide them through their undergraduate years, showing them how to apply and helping them prepare for the Medical College Admissions Test when the time comes.

After June’s weeklong camp, the simulation lab will host another starting in July.

Forth said 16 students are signed up for the lab in the second session.

“I think it’s really valuable to be able to give these students the opportunity to test the waters and see what working in health care is all about,” she said. “I hope it helps them to make important decisions in their futures.”

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