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Medical Students Show A Heart and Lend A Hand to CMSD Students through Anatomy Camps

Posted: December 3rd, 2013

For more information about Anatomy Camp contact:
Susanne Wish-Baratz

Medical Students Show A Heart and Lend A Hand to CMSD Students through Anatomy Camps

Even with a full slate of lectures, labs and exams, some community-minded students at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (SOM) are taking time to be on call for hundreds of Cleveland area youngsters.

By volunteering at one of the three Anatomy Camps held at Case Western Reserve, these first and second year med students not only create the programming and give presentations that promote good nutrition and healthy lifestyles, they also mentor, ask questions, answer questions and engage in role play that improves the well-being of middle and high school students throughout the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Community education programs like CWRU's Anatomy Camps are not only valuable for the youngsters who attend, they enhance the preparation of the medical students as well. By volunteering to participate, these medical students get a head start in interacting with underserved populations, performing physicals and explaining medical terms and concepts in ways secondary school students can relate to and understand.

It also helps them develop a spirit of willingness, concern and enthusiasm that bridges the gap between cultures, ages and circumstances.

"It's so fulfilling," says CWRU med student Bona Ko. "Our impact on them is surprising. We're not just mentors we also act as health care providers.  And it's nice for us to teach others what we've learned."

It also tests their skills as educators. "You have to be super creative to reach this group and hold their attention," says student Kirsten Miller-Jaster.  "Our ideas had to evolve a lot. We had to think in terms of what messages are we sending; what messages are age-appropriate. The thing that's most rewarding is when you teach a session at the beginning and watch them run with it."

There are three SOM-endorsed anatomy camps.

  • The National Youth Sports Program (NYSP), which brings nearly 600 economically disadvantaged students age 10 to 16 to the CWRU campus for five weeks between June and July, sponsored the first Anatomy Camp. For one day only, Cleveland Metropolitan School students spend an hour or two listening to a pair of SOM students present three 20-minute sessions on areas of the body that relate to sports: the bones, heart and lungs.
  • Feedback from the NYSP program gave rise to another anatomy camp that runs during the school year. The Case Anatomy Camp, an initiative spearheaded by SOM student Danica Wiredja, features two-hour sessions held once a month for up to 60 secondary school students. SOM students addressed issues like high blood pressure, smoking and nutrition. A biomedical engineering station has recently been added to the sessions thanks to a partnership with the Gelfand STEM center. The audience changes with each presentation and 12 different schools have participated in the Case Camp by the thus far.
  • More than 40 SOM students have participated in the most intensive program - the North Star Collaborative Anatomy Camp. This joint initiative, sponsored by Laurel School for Girls, the Weatherhead Institute for Family Medicine and Community Health and the Clinical and Translation Science Collaborative at the SOM, provides an interactive learning experience for seventh grade girls in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. These full-day sessions, held once a month since May, shy away from a traditional lecture format. Medical students conduct informal discussion sessions on health related concerns like nutrition, cardiovascular health, respiratory health, the nervous system and reproductive health. SOM students use small group discussions and comedy-filled role-play skits at the end of each session to fully illustrate the message.

The discussions are candid and range from topics like mental illness, drugs and other addictions, the effects of alcohol on the brain, coping with stress, bullying and peer pressure. The displays are often graphic. "To show the negative side effects of smoking, we brought in a lung from a smoker that had tumors throughout. It really grossed the girls out," Miller-Jaster said.

The medical students not only conduct the individual sessions, they organize field trips for the girls as well. So far the "North Stars" have visited different departments at MetroHealth Medical Center, put their nutrition lessons to the test with a visit to Cleveland's West Side Market and raised their sense of social consciousness and responsibility by participating in the 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer's. On December 14, the secondary school students will attend the SOM's Doc Opera, a hilarity-filled variety show. The North Stars will finish this year's program by conducting their own Health Fair at the School of Medicine.

The camps also serve a much-needed purpose, says second year student Jamie Ponmattam. "They have some information but there are a lot of misconceptions and they are a common thread through all the sessions. We get asked questions like 'can you get pregnant from kissing? Can too little sugar lead to diabetes?' But once we address a topic, they take the information and run with it. That's very rewarding for us."

Will the program continue to expand? It depends on the funding," says faculty advisor Susanne Wish-Baratz, PhD, assistant professor of anatomy at Case Western Reserve.

"The North Star Collaborative approached us about the girls program. We transport them, we serve a lunch. There's a cost for something like that."

And there's always the satisfaction that comes from knowing that they have not only tried to serve the health and wellness needs of inner city children, but that they may have also encouraged one of them to follow in their footsteps and pursue a career in the medical ranks.

"Initially, most of the kids who visit have little or no interest in science," says Michael Hermelin, who worked with the NYSP Anatomy Camp summer program. "It was fun for us to see their reaction when they viewed a heart or a brain for the first time. Ordinarily, most of them wouldn't set foot on the Case campus. Because of camps like this, we now have some who are looking to health as a potential career."

North Star Collaborative Anatomy Camp Reaches Hearts and Minds Through Cardiovascular Health

Posted: August 2nd, 2013

North Star Collaborative Anatomy Camp Reaches Hearts and Minds Through Cardiovascular Health

A small group of seventh-grade girls sits around a wooden table, carefully stuffing empty paper towel rolls with newspaper. When they are finished, the girls pour in sand, quietly observing how it travels through the now-clogged rolls.

Their conclusion: although some sand does eventually fall out, it doesn't move as easily as it did earlier, when the girls poured sand through rolls without any newspaper.

The girls turn to their medical school mentors. Because they have a tangible example to simulate how clogged arteries limit blood flow, they can now participate in a group discussion and share their ideas.

There are no lectures at the North Star Collaborate Anatomy Camp.

This second session, of the five part series, took place at Laurel School's Butler campus on Saturday, July 20th, and focused on cardiovascular health.

The girls were guided through a variety of hands-on, interactive activities that illustrated the heart's anatomy and function. Activities included experiments, exercise, and even a real human heart!

Throughout the day, the medical school student mentors discussed heart-healthy lifestyle choices with the girls, connecting the anatomy lessons with practical advice for personal wellness.

In addition to their anatomy lessons, the girls were asked to practice fun teamwork activities on a challenge course, helping each other through balancing games, puzzles, and ropes adventures.

And they were not alone; the mentors took part in these challenges, providing constant enthusiasm and encouragement.

The culminating activity of the day was a creative production, full of laughter and insight, where teams of girls and medical students scripted and performed their own skits to demonstrate what they had learned.

In the coming months, the three following sessions will cover respiratory, nervous system, and reproductive health.

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Anatomy Camp Offers Hands-on Learning for Both CMSD and School of Medicine Students

Posted: May 8th, 2013

Anatomy Camp Offers Hands-on Learning for Both CMSD and School of Medicine Students

Remember learning about the skeletal system as a child? "The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone’s connect to the hip bone..." - Not very scientific, but fun to learn anyway. Susanne Wish-Baratz, PhD, assistant professor of anatomy, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in partnership with Holly Fidler of the North Star Collaborative and Me’lani Joseph of the Gelfand STEM Center, has created a way to combine fun with the science of anatomy through interactive learning for 40 seventh-grade girls from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District with the North Star Collaborate Anatomy Camp.

More than 40 School of Medicine students volunteered to serve as "wellness mentors" to the children, teaching them about nutrition and fitness. The girls learned about reading nutrition labels, portion sizes, what soda can do to tooth enamel, food-related diseases and the human gastrointestinal through a series of interactive stations.

The camp's first session was held on the campus of Case Western Reserve University at the School of Medicine. It kicked off a 10-month long program and is the first of nine events (five hands on learning session and four field trips)
designed to inspire girls living in the metropolitan Cleveland area to fulfill their intellectual, social, emotional and physical promise.

During the final activity of the first day, and under the guidance of faculty physicians, the medical students administered health physicals to the campers and worked with them to establish long-term nutrition and exercise goals.

The remaining four learning sessions will focus on the cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems and finally, reproductive health. The Anatomy Camp is part of a larger program sponsored by Laurel School entitled North Star Collaborative created to help break the cycle of poverty by offering a holistic and long-term commitment to this group of girls. The overall goal is to provide access to resources and support to the same group of children from fourth grade through the fulfillment of a four-year college degree.

The North Star Collaborative Anatomy Camp is made possible by funding from both the Weatherhead Institute for Family Medicine and Community Health and the Clinical and Translation Science Collaborative at the School of Medicine.

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