Nov. 23, 2009
Contact: Jeremy Craig, 404-413-1357
A group of six future doctors had up-close views of patient care this fall at the Atlanta Medical Center, a bustling hospital in the heart of the city. They discussed cases, viewed family practice care in clinics, observed heart surgeries and gallbladder removals, and other procedures. These six young doctors-to-be, however, aren't in medical school yet.
They are the undergraduate and graduate student pre-medicine majors at Georgia State who are participating in a unique program that gives them a step ahead in the path towards medicine.
The students of the clinical internships class, a two-credit hour class, are shadowing doctors and medical residents in different specialties, giving them a window into medicine that pre-med students don't usually get, sometimes not until the third year of med school.
The program started this fall as a partnership between Atlanta Medical Center and GSU. The students participate in rotations two to three days a week and rotate with specialists in trauma, family medicine, orthopedics and general surgery.
"When I was an undergraduate, you went off to medical school having very little information about what you're getting yourself into," said Dr. Steven M. Kane, an orthopedic surgeon at Atlanta Medical Center who helped to conceptualize the program. "We thought it would be nice to have an undergraduate program available where students knew what they were going to be doing, and what kind of workload they would have as a medical student."
"They actually get to see everything that they've learned in their premedical courses in action," said Carmen Eilertson, senior lecturer in biology at Georgia State and GSU's coordinator of the internship program. "They learn to speak the language, learn critical thinking skills and protocols- things we can't teach in the classroom."
Such a program so early in an academic career might sound intimidating, but students in the program said that they're more eager than ever to pursue med school.
Dora McIver, a recent graduated and participant in the program, has even considered new options in her path toward becoming a physician.
"I wanted to go into pediatrics, but I have a whole new love for surgery now," she said, noting the gallbladder removal and coronary artery bypass graft she has observed during her time at the hospital.
"We really experience what it's like to be a resident," said Brandon Nokes, a graduate student in the program. "The staff has been amazing, and I've seen a lot surgeries, like a craniotomy and a few mastectomies."
Surgical students have a chance to scrub up, get involved in observing the procedures and follow up care. They'll discuss outcomes and review cases. Family medicine students get involved in patient care, whether in the clinic, nursing home or hospital.
The physicians involved - incredibly busy doctors who have not received extra compensation for taking GSU students under their wings - said that the students' experiences will aid in their paths.
"I think it's invaluable," said Dr. George W. Brown, associate director for family medicine at Atlanta Medical Center. "It not only looks good on their records when applying for medical school, but it also gives a broad experience."
Next semester, under the combined effort of Eilertson and the AMC physicians, a new surgical anatomy course, Biology 4930/6930, will be offered for 20 pre-med students. The lectures will be supplemented by visiting surgeons in various specialties who will teach about different medical procedures.
The corresponding three hour lab will use something else that pre-med students don't typically see until med school - cadavers.
"This course represents a novel way to teach anatomy using dissection, radiology and surgical cases," Eilertson explained. "And our pre-med education will benefit significantly from this collaboration since our labs are not set up for cadaver use. Furthermore, our students will get to interact with surgeons and medical residents who will serve as important role models in their education process."