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Shaping the Future

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Leslie Capo

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If you think getting nearly a hundred high school students and teachers from multiple schools in multiple parishes to travel 150+ miles first thing in the morning and arrive on time, at the same time is an easy feat, just imagine the logistics involved. Almost as difficult are the logistics required to plan activities and schedule the people needed to conduct them, as well as organize such a large group into smaller, more manageable numbers so that the students will have one of the most memorable experiences of their lives.

Yet that is exactly what happened on a recent Thursday when the second-year class of LSU Health New Orleans medical students and the Southwest Louisiana Area Health Education Center (SWLAHEC) pulled off a very successful Day with the Docs. Day with the Docs is a partnership pipeline program designed to give students who are serious about becoming physicians a chance to see what life is like as a medical student and get an up-close look at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. After going through the experience, the students will either realize that yes, I do want to continue on this path or no, this is not for me.

Day with the Docs

Issuing final instructions before the visit, L2 Vice President of Community Service Ryan Bolotte, who was in charge of coordinating the day at the school, encouraged his classmates to “take a second to think back on your high school days and recognize what kind of impact you can have on these students. The experience that we provide for these students on Thursday can be one of the defining factors in their career exploration journey.”

Indeed it can. Says Brooke Voorhies, SWLAHEC Program Coordinator of Career and Professional Education, “This program is such a big deal for these high school students. Many of them do not know what it takes to actually become a doctor. What better way to find out than to actually speak to those that are there now? To actually see what they do on a daily basis. It also gives them the chance to see LSU Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in New Orleans, to see that this is a real possibility of school options – that they can actually go to school so close to home.”

Buses carrying the 9th -12th graders from Lafayette Parish (Lafayette High, Acadiana High, David Thibodeaux Stem Magnet Academy, Comeaux High, and The University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Allen Parish (Kinder High, Reeves High, and Fairview High), Acadia Parish (Rayne High, Crowley High, Church Point High, Iota High, Midland High) and Vermillion Parish (Kaplan High, North Vermilion High, Gueydan High, Erath High, and Abbeville High) pulled up outside of the Medical Education Building on LSU Health New Orleans' downtown campus bright and early.
Day with the Docs
The visiting students had a very full day. They spent the morning learning all about medical school from the medical students, Dr. Robert Eubanks, Chairman of Admissions, and faculty and staff. Interactive panels included Medical School Myth Busters and Medical School Student Panel. The high schoolers heard all about opportunities through medical student interest groups at the Activities Fair. After lunch, they broke into groups and rotated among hands-on activities including Laparoscopic Trainers, Gross Organs, Heart and Lung Sounds, Case Simulations and tours of University Medical Center.
Day with the Docs
“This is SWLAHEC’s most effective pipeline program,” said Voorhies. “Louisiana has such a shortage of medical professionals in rural areas. With programs like Day with the Docs in conjunction with the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, we can make sure that these rural areas are well represented. This is the best chance for students in these rural areas, to return one day as medical professionals.”
At the end of the day, all of the students submitted their anonymous evaluations, and here’s a sampling of their comments:
“This day wasn’t long enough and I’m sad to see it end.”

“I can actually be a doctor one day. I was a little intimidated when walking up to such a large school but after talking to the med students and walking around to the different rooms all day, I am confident that I can and will attend LSU and become a doctor!”

“Med students are just regular people.”

“After today I know that I want to become a doctor and I know that LSU will be my first choice.”

And from a med student: “I had that same amazement in my eyes when I saw the med school for the first time. This program has sparked a fire in these kids and that spark is what they will use to continue on to be amazing doctors.”

“Out of the 78 students in attendance, I can say that each and every one of them has decided that this is their passion in life and they actually can do it,” Voorhies reports. “It was such a positive experience for not only the high school students, but the med students also. The high school students were able to share their excitement, and the med students were able to share their passion. It was a win-win on both sides. We are extremely grateful that LSU Health Sciences Center School of Medicine host programs such as Day with the Docs, so that more students can get that spark to go on to become amazing doctors.”
Day with the Docs
“This is such a critical time in the lives of these high school students as they are weighing their different college options and trying to discover what career path they want to pursue," says Bolotte. "My classmates and I love the opportunity to share our own experiences with these students. We know what it is like to go through the journey they are about to begin; heck, some of us are only one or two years out of our undergrad experiences. Having the opportunity to offer words of support, advice, and positivity is very rewarding for us as medical students, but it is even more important for these high school students. Their visit to our campus and their conversations with our medical students could be the deciding factor in whether they continue to pursue a path in medicine or not. I was able to attend Day with the Doctors during my senior year of high school, so being able to coordinate this program alongside my classmates has special meaning for me. It is a great program for our school and medical community – it reminds us as medical students what we have overcome to get to this point, and it is a special day for these students as they start to understand more about what they want to do for the rest of their lives.”