Three Medical School students went back to middle school over the summer. This time around, though, they weren't students, but teachers. The students taught about 20 students at the Turner Middle School, at 59th and Baltimore, about cancer and general health topics. The students were participating in a summer internship program run by the West Philadelphia Improvement Corps and the Community Health Group at the University. The students were also sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. WEPIC developed out of a public service and community development seminar taught by School of Arts and Sciences Vice Dean Ira Harkavy and President Sheldon Hackney. "The goal is improving the quality of life in the community by linking the students at the University with West Philadelphia community work," Harkavy said. "In this way, the University will be assisting schools to become centers for their neighborhoods." Last year, the theme for the curriculum was hypertension, and this year the focus was on cancer. "We tried to teach what cancer is, where it arises from, and how it spreads," said second-year Med student Dwayne Sewell. The 20 middle school students learned about the different types of cancer and the risk factors associated with it. "A key point was that we focused on the philosophy that they control their own health," said second-year Med student Mike Reyes. A typical day at the school would begin with a short lecture. The classroom setting was interactive and students asked questions throughout the day. The class split up into small groups for discussion run by the three Med students, three Turner teachers and nine undergraduates from Harkavy's seminar class. Each undergraduate was assigned two middle school students who they worked with for the whole month. Group time was spent role playing, writing rap songs, and videotaping presentations. The Med students also brought pathology specimens, such as a human liver and a silicon breast model. The middle school students spent much of the time preparing for a health fair which was held on the last day of school. The students ran the booths themselves, which ranged from blood pressure tests to cancer screenings to eye examinations. "This program provides a way for different schools such as the Med school to infuse resources into the community," said Jack Ende, an associated professor at the Med School and an administrator at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Ende supervised the Med students at Turner. The summer program is already expanding. The program directors just obtained funding from the Ronald McDonald Children's Charity which was used, in part, to hire full-time coordinator. The three Med students all have written reports based on their summer experience. Sewell developed a breast cancer survey which he distributed at the health fair. Reyes studied the demographics of the Turner community and what health facilities are available. The third Med student, Laura Sices, developed a manual for intensive preventive screenings to be done by fourth-year Med students later this year. "It was really a unique program because so many different groups-graduates, undergraduates, and middle school students- worked together," Sices said. "It was rewarding because we got to see what being a doctor is really all about," Reyes said.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.