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March 6, 2014

High School Classes Give Glimpse of Medical Career

Students at New London High School’s Biomedical Sciences classes get a peek at a medical career path.

Students at New London High School’s Biomedical Sciences classes get a peek at a medical career path.   

From lab coats to Manikins to research-based study to solve problems, the classes may seem like medical school. “When you walk in to the classroom the kids in Human Body Systems are wearing lab coats,” said Dr. Kathy Gwidt, district administrator, New London School District. “The feel of the classroom is very different.”

Students are examining cases of a person who has a health problem. “They have to use resources, and laboratory equipment to solve case studies,” said Dr. Gwidt. “Ultimately they have to solve the problem. They are sincerely applying their learning to their projects. It’s very cool. It’s really neat to see and hear these kids. Their conversations are just so real world.”

The Biomedical Sciences classes are part of the school’s Health and Human Services Academy. They were introduced by Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Project Lead the Way affiliate program.  “We did our research and we knew this was a nationally certified program,” said Dr. Gwidt. “We wanted to do something that would provide strength to our career academies.”

Currently three classes are offered: Principles of Biomedical Science, Human Body Systems and Medical Interventions. A fourth, Biomedical Innovations, will be offered in a couple years. “This program is meant for any student who is considering any type of health care career,” said Dr. Gwidt. “It’s introducing kids to the plethora of careers within the world of health care.”

Teachers Jennifer Doran and Laura Turner helped bring the classes to school after hearing a presentation about the program. “I’ve been teaching Anatomy and Physiology,” said Doran, Health and Human Services Academy Coordinator and Anatomy & Physiology, Biology and Human Body Systems teacher. “It just seems like a natural fit or extension to that kind of class.”

She enjoyed the format of the classes and how it will give students a taste of the medical field and whether they want to pursue it or not. “The classes are different from the traditional classroom,” she said. “I’m not in front of the classroom teaching. I give them directions and then facilitate the rest of the time to assist them as needed.”

There are no text books because all of the activities are research based, said Doran. “They have to do research to find answers,” she said. “If they are not doing research then they are doing hands on lab activity.”

There are 95 students in the classes and the interest is growing as next year three classes will be offered. Doctors from New London Family Medical Center and ThedaCare Physicians-New London are also involved, serving on an advisory board, providing input on industry standards and serving to listen to student presentations. “The partnership has provided strength to the program in a way we couldn't have realized without them being at the table,” said Dr. Gwidt.

Paul Hoell, president of the medical staff and an anesthesiologist at New London Family Medical Center, has been impressed by the students in the biomedical sciences. “I am very often left in awe regarding the depth, complexity and ability of our high school students,” said Dr. Hoell, who also lectures for students once a year.

He can also serve as inspiration and encouragement to the students who want to pursue a medical career. “I find that students very often find the field of medicine beyond their reach and do not understand what it takes to be a physician, not only the education part but also when out in practice and all the opportunities,” said Dr. Hoell. “I tell them if you have the drive and ability to set goals, both short and long term, you can do it.”