The De La Salle Medical Club, moderated by science teacher Mary Balamucki, had quite a memorable day on February 16. It took its first-ever field trip to the Wayne State University School of Medicine and experienced an unforgettable day of hands-on learning from the world-renowned medical school.
It was an immensely educational experience, organized by Dr. Yvette Boileau-Lanni, the director of population health management at SALTA Direct Primary Care, and Abhinav Krishnan, Ph.D., the associate director of admissions for the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
“I wish I would’ve had this experience as a high schooler and even as an undergrad student,” Dr. Boileau-Lanni said. “When you’re a PA (physician’s assistant) or in med school, it’s extremely competitive. And, the best thing you can do is to have the knowledge, knowledge of what you need to do and how you’re going to get there.”
Luckily for the 14 Pilot students who attended the trip, they gathered an ample amount of useful information on the ins and outs of being a medical student.
The day started off with an insightful presentation from Krishnan on the school’s application process and a variety of other must-know medical school items. Plus, it included a tour of the campus and a demonstration of various real-life hospital experiences, including performing CPR, inside the school's Kado Family Clinical Skills Center.
Additionally, to conclude the day, Trifun Dimitrijevski, M.D., a longtime physician at Detroit Receiving Hospital in the department of emergency medicine, discussed with the students what caused Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin to undergo cardiac arrest during a Monday Night Football game in early January. As Dimitrijevski explained, it was determined to be due to a rare occurrence called commotio cordis. In such an event, a blow to the chest at exactly the right 20-millisecond interval in the heart's rhythm – in this case, from a tackle — can cause the heart to stop beating.
The field trip was an eye-opening experience for the Medical Club students, including junior Cameron Conklin. Conklin aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon one day.
“By having undertaken this process, I was able to find out his (Krishnan’s) ideas on what classes to take, plus what he expects from students, like myself, that are looking to apply to and get into medical school. This is a big step in the application process for being an orthopedic surgeon,” Conklin said.
The biggest lesson Conklin took from Krishnan’s presentation, though, was that each medical school student will get a taste of their intended profession – and other areas of medicine they could specialize in – in an actual hospital setting.
“In medical school, I wouldn’t just get hands-on training in orthopedic surgery. I would also experience neurosurgery and other types of surgery so that I have a better idea of what I really like and want to go into,” Conklin expressed. “That’s a big thing to me. I might want to be an orthopedic surgeon right now, but after going through a couple years of med school, I might change my mind. And, it’s something I didn’t know prior to today.”
Being a medical student is not for the faint of heart. It’s a highly intense, strenuous process that requires a ton of hard work and long nights inside both the classroom and the hospital. Subsequently, it demands a high degree of persistence on the part of those enrolled in the program.
“I’ve had my own adversities, and you learn more from your failures and challenges than anything else. And, at the end of the day, those failures teach you to be resilient,” Dr. Boileau-Lanni commented. “As a medical provider, you have to be just that: resilient. Most patients are great, but some people, when they’re sick, will lash out at you. You'll be in different situations that you are not aware of or you've never been acclimated to. It also might make you question your humanity and what you really want to do. However, through all of it, you must remember what it takes to do medicine: the intensity, the length and also the rewarding nature of all of it."
As Krishnan conveyed during his presentation, it's okay to go through a bit of failure along the way to becoming a medical professional – as long as one picks himself or herself back up. And, the same can be said for individuals prior to the application process for medical school. It's something that junior Nnaemeka Ikechi picked up on during the Medical Club’s visit to the Wayne State School of Medicine.
“Leading up to applying for med school, you’ve got to be able to show that you've overcome adversity at some point because that’s what makes you different from everybody else,” Ikechi said. “Those challenging times are the ones that build your character and make you stand out. So, during the interview process, it’s okay to admit to having failed at something.”
One of the parallels between De La Salle and the School of Medicine that Ikechi and his classmates easily gathered was the medical school’s focus on service learning.
Specifically, students enrolled at the Wayne State medical school are required to take part in 35 hours of service learning a year. Additionally, they are not allowed to graduate without completing the full amount of hours.
Service learning is also an important component of Lasallian education, helping De La Salle fulfill its mission of building boys into men. Each year, DLS students are required to complete 15 service hours.
"It was great to find out about the similar values between Wayne State's School of Medicine and De La Salle," Ikechi expressed. "Hearing that the School of Medicine is a service-based community, designed to help the less fortunate, really shows the school holds solid values and is willing to go the extra mile to assist those in need around them. I was instantly drawn to that."
The Medical Club’s field trip to the Wayne State University School of Medicine is another example of the De La Salle difference and the positive impact that the school and its teachers have on students both inside and outside the classroom.
Balamucki was thoroughly impressed with the one-of-a-kind experience afforded to her students.
“I thought the field trip was amazing,” Balamucki expressed. “Everyone we worked with was so professional and encouraging. I learned so much about the process of applying to medical school. I thought the Skills Center was fascinating, too, and I enjoyed watching our boys have a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
To find out more about the Medical Club and its upcoming meetings, please email Balamucki at firstname.lastname@example.org.