Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center (CLAHEC) and Tulane Medical School recently presented the "Career MD" program for high school juniors and seniors living in CLAHEC's ten-parish region around the Baton Rouge area.

This unique program was a one-day interactive experience that provided students who are interested in medicine or a health career with an opportunity to observe a day's activities on a medical school campus.

Qualifying students totaling 28 traveled via coach bus to Tulane's medical school campus in New Orleans on Jan. 22. Students were given the opportunity to learn about heart and lung sounds, to measure respiratory rate and blood pressure, to learn basic life support practices working with simulators and to practice suturing and knot tying skills.

They visited the hospital to learn about the Child's Play Therapy Center and the Pediatric ICU. They were able to work with staff from the Standardized Patient Center and saw how medical students practice physical examinations on an actual person. Participants were also able to interact with current Tulane medical students and find out about the "life of a medical student."

Tulane faculty, students and staff were on hand to greet students on arrival in the morning. Dr. Ernest Sneed, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs talked with the students about the application process and specified requirements. He gave the students much encouragement and advice about choices they were going to face during their undergraduate and graduate studies.

Jameshaulyn Fernandez, a junior at Plaquemine HS, was selected as one of the participants for the day.

"The most valuable part of the day for me was when they said do what interests you and what you like," Fernandez said. "I will continue having a very positive attitude and stay dedicated. I dream of being a pediatric surgeon, so I know for a fact that I will pursue that dream. Today, I felt like I was with my loved ones."

CLAHEC is a non-profit, community-based agency dedicated to improving healthcare in Louisiana and addressing the problem of healthcare professional shortages in our state. A primary goal of CLAHEC is to identify local needs and develop programs that will encourage young people to consider a career in healthcare and to practice in rural and underserved communities where their services are urgently needed.

Nan Ewing, program coordinator, states that "the 'Career MD program is an excellent tool for students to learn about medical school and develop ideas for their own future careers through observation, hands-on experiences, and interaction with Tulane medical students and faculty."