Kathryn Black considers career in medicine

Jayne Caron

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By Kathryn Black, ’11, Contributor

This summer I packed my bags and flew off to Boston. I had never flown commercial by myself before. Little did I know that my nervousness would soon be left behind. The National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) on Medicine in Boston had neither the time nor the patience for nerves. Centered in the campus of Babson College, this jam-packed ten day program was geared toward educating high school students from all over the country about careers in medicine.

In between an endless procession of medicine-based discussions, activities, lectures, and speeches, I found myself standing at the foot of the marble-clad Harvard Medical School. I confess that I was chosen for the Harvard assignment by lot; however, I am willing to entertain the idea that it was fate. My group was one of only two given the coveted tickets to Harvard out of the fifteen groups in the NYLF program. Along with a tour of the campus, we sat through a memorable lecture delivered by a Harvard professor. I learned a lot and, if ever the opportunity presents itself, I am confident I could treat pneumothorax or hemothorax by inserting a chest tube—no problem! Thanks Harvard. Perhaps my most exciting moment at Harvard was treating an asthma attack of a human simulator mannequin (as seen in Grey’s Anatomy). Another highlight was our visit to the pathology department—where they perform autopsies—, and we held and examined the diseased human organs of the deceased. It was incredibly interesting and only slightly nauseating. We sat and talked with energetic and enthusiastic Harvard Medical students, and then received a lecture from the admissions office. My pre-formed conviction of the impossibility of gaining admittance to Harvard Medical School was reaffirmed four times over. Even though I will most likely never tread the marble floors of Harvard Medical School as a student, I did enjoy slipping and sliding across them as a visitor from NYLF.

Another highlight was visiting South Shore Hospital and shadowing a doctor in the Emergency Department, who just happened to have ties to Cincinnati (which is how I got the coveted Emergency Department gig). While I was making the rounds with a fellow Cincinnatian, my other NYLF peers were scattered throughout New England’s best hospitals. A lucky few were invited to scrub in, enter the operating room, and witness actual surgeries. Even though one or two students passed out—I would have gladly stood in their place—, all of NYLF was amazed that a few of their own had witnessed open heart surgeries. Although I was not included in that lucky group, I did, along with the NYLF programs of Boston, Georgia, and Washington, get to watch a knee replacement surgery via a live video conference. Surprisingly, the surgery reminded me of my days in Mr. Marin’s woodshop. There was a lot of sawing and chiseling and I loved every minute of it. Not to toot my own horn, but I was always good at woodshop.

Although there could have been a few less lectures, I still marvel at the opportunities NYLF provides its students. All the teachers were unpaid Medical School students who volunteered to give America’s youth an opportunity to discover medicine. The nearly two weeks were filled with opportunities to get to know and learn from amazing people dedicated to helping others. NYLF was a great experience and I highly recommend it whether you are interested in medicine or not!