HAMDEN – It was while watching reruns of the hit television show, “M*A*S*H,” with her father that Wallingford’s Megan Klein decided that she would like to pursue a career in healthcare.
“I want to go into the medical field,” said Klein, a Lyman Hall High School junior-to-be. “My dad always watched old TV shows, so I got into this show called “M*A*S*H.” I wanted to be like Margaret Houlihan and assist the doctor in surgery, so being a surgical technologist is what I really want to do.”
With that in mind, Klein enrolled in Quinnipiac University’s Healthcare Career Exploration Academy for High School Students. During the two-week program, which runs from July 10-21, students live on campus and are introduced to a variety of health professions all while engaging in hands-on skill building such as proficiency in taking vital signs, introduction to suturing techniques, fabrication of custom orthoses and basic dissection techniques. Attendees also can earn certificates in basic first aid, mental health first aid and Stop the Bleed as well as two hours of course credit transferable to Quinnipiac.
Klein and 52 fellow high school students from as far away as Tennessee took their training to the next level Tuesday with a visit to Hartford Hospital’s Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation (CESI). The students were engaged from the get-go as they watched Dr. Pavlos Papasavas perform a live gastric sleeve surgery on a female patient via video. They were able to ask Dr. Papasavas questions in real time as he showed how he uses a robotic surgical system and pointed out organs such as the pancreas, liver and gallbladder.
“This is so cool,” Klein said.
The students then heard from Bimal Patel, president of Hartford Hospital, in addition to labor and delivery and intensive care nurses, surgical technologists and medical residents who discussed their jobs and career paths. Shari Jarrett, a third-year emergency medicine resident at UConn, explained that she chose the healthcare field after her sister was diagnosed with cancer.
“Going through that process made me want to be a doctor and be an advocate for people,” she said.
The learning was just beginning. The students, along with Quinnipiac’s Jerilyn Nolan, an academic advisor, and Jason Louis Scozzafava, clinical associate professor of health science studies, got to see Hartford Hospital’s Life Star critical care helicopter and helipad.
Nolan said the students are introduced to 13 different allied health professions and that Tuesday’s visit was a way for them to put what they have learned on campus to the test at the hospital.
“We are so excited to have these high school students here,” Rebecca Gleason, simulation manager at CESI. “We’re helping to immerse them in various topics that they might be interested in.”
The afternoon session was jam-packed with hands-on sessions with several simulation manikins, including a dog manikin named “Alex” that police officers and military members use for training. The topics included bleeding control, life-saving techniques, labor and delivery, laparoscopic surgery and robotic training with a “Da Vinci robot,” a machine that uses four thin robotic arms similar to the one used by Dr. Papasavas.
“I’ve been interested in a career as a (physician assistant), but I also wanted to look at how different healthcare professionals work together,” said Andrew Fuller, 17, of Fairfield. “I’ve learned a lot. It’s kind of neat to see the behind-the-scenes things at the hospital. We’re getting to see how people do this in the real world.”