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Advancing in the medical field

Nine days. Seventeen workshops. Two hospital trips. Altogether, one life-changing and career-altering experience.

Seniors Melissa Flores and Edmund Garcia attended the National Youth Leadership Forum: Medicine conference at UCLA to explore the fields of medicine and healthcare from July 8 to 29. The program offered interested students a glimpse of a career in the healthcare industry through immersive workshops and lectures. Flores and Garcia were nominated by Career Technical Education Dean Nelson Chen to attend the program for their experience in the Sports Medicine Pathway.

“I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I needed to take advantage of,” Flores said. “I thought if Nelson believed in me enough to nominate me, I should go to let him know he made the right choice. Plus, I knew this program would benefit me in the future.”

Students took hospital tours and obtained hands-on experience and clinical skills at the Loma Linda University Medical Center and the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. They were able to participate in simulations of mass triage situations and different types of emergencies. At the hospitals and medical schools, they also had the chance to use the most recent advanced technology, such as slicing open a digital human body to see the anatomy, in the medical field.

“Being exposed to that kind of technology was really cool as it helped me understand the greater role that technology will play in medicine in the future,” Flores said.

Students were also able to learn many clinical skills in workshops taught by program advisers. Students gained proficiency in splinting, suturing, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, taking blood pressure, wound care, triaging and spine boarding.

“I already knew how to do most of the skills they taught, so it was a good refresher,” Garcia said. “Suturing was new for me and even though it was tough to master, I figured it out in the end.”

Guest speakers lectured about the process to become a health professional from undergraduate studies to medical school to residency. Students were also instructed in large college lecture halls to simulate the college learning environment.

“I learned that pursuing any career in medicine is going to take a lot of effort and work, but it’s manageable as long as I want it and commit myself,” Flores said. “Even though the journey is long and difficult, I know that the end product will be rewarding.”

Physicians, nurses and other health practitioners also shared their own stories about their specific field and path they took to reach it. Flores and Garcia were also able to interact with other students planning to pursue a career in healthcare.

“The conference really opened my options to the kind of future I want to pursue. Before, I was only focused on being a physical therapist, but now, I am considering podiatry and athletic training,” Garcia said. “Meeting the people at this conference was the truly most rewarding part of the experience. Being surrounded by all of these passionate and driven individuals motivated me even more to pursue my goals.”

By Irene Zhou, News editor
Photo by Sam Compolongo

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