Hands-on lessons in health care

By Jan Jarvis

Students in SIM lab at Camp Cardiac


After breaking a few teeth and struggling to get the tongue out of the way, Pritul Sarker, 15, successfully intubated his first patient.

“It’s in the esophagus – oh, oh, oh!” the Canterbury Episcopal School student said. “I got it, I got it! I gotta get this on Snapchat.”

Fortunately the patient was a manikin head used to give Camp Cardiac participants a hands-on lesson in health care at UNT Health Science Center. During the five-day camp, teenagers under the supervision of medical students in the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine got the chance to take ultrasounds of their hearts, tie surgical knots and get certified in CPR.

They also studied heart anatomy, heard presentations from health care professionals and learned lessons about cardiology that they never would receive in high school.

“Before this program becoming a physician was just a dream,” Pritul said. “Now it’s a must.”

Genna Wacker, 16 and a student at Marcus High School in Flower Mound, could barely contain her pride surrounding her first hands-on lesson in intubation.

“I learned how to intubate someone – and I did it in 21 seconds,” she said.

Jarrod Burger, 17 and a senior at Colleyville Heritage High School, said he plans to become a cardiovascular surgeon and the camp only reinforced that goal.

“This experience definitely has helped me understand the cardiovascular system,” he said. “This is so much more than we learn in high school.”

The 25 high school students attending the camp this year have all expressed an interest in health care careers and many plan to go into cardiology, said Shivani Mehta, a second-year TCOM student.

“We give them an idea of how many years it takes to become a doctor,” Mehta said. “We also expose them to the kind of procedures that every doctor is trained to do.”

The camp introduces students to experiences that they are not likely to get in high school or even college, said Kristina Pham, a TCOM student and camp counselor.

“We hear a lot of lectures as medical students,” she said, “But we do not get all these hands-on experiences in the first year.”

Yasmine Bukhar, 16 and a student at The Highlands School, said she learned more about the heart than she ever imagined.

“I feel like I have learned a lot and I haven’t even started medical school,” she said.

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