Doctor Teaches Medicine as Teamwork

Are there any future doctors here?

Not everyone who goes into medicine likes or even excels at biology or chemistry. Some have no plans to go into the medical field.  Ironically, these are the students Neil Smith, DO, President of Fairview Hospital, is trying to ignite a spark of interest in to consider a career in medicine.

According to Dr. Smith, medicine is about figuring out puzzles. For nearly 15 years, he has wanted to start a class that would give kids a different look into the field. He himself never liked biology or chemistry, yet today he’s a successful physician and hospital president.

So he’s created a class that focuses on solving the puzzles in healthcare and involves working in teams. The class debuted in partnership with St. Ignatius and St. Joseph Academy and Dr. Smith hopes to take it to other schools (public and private) throughout the area.

“I thought it was important to get the students into groups, because that’s how medicine really is,” said Dr. Smith. “I don’t make the diagnosis by myself. I talk to the pathologist, cardiologist, kidney specialist…there are three or four of us looking at x-rays and trying to come to a conclusion. Nobody does it by themselves in medicine.”

Over the course of six weeks, Dr. Smith gave 20 students who were divided into teams, clues to solving a real patient diagnosis; much like you would expect to see in the show "House". Each week the teams met for one hour and were given a new piece of the puzzle - from an initial description, to lab results, imaging, etc.

“This was all voluntary…done all on their own time,” said teacher, Tara Henderson. “Many students have mentioned that they would be signing up again next year.”

“I liked taking part in the reasoning thought process,” said student, David McDonald. “It was cool to try to figure out what the diagnosis was. I definitely am more interested in the biology aspect of things now.”

During the last class on April 13, each team presented their patient case and diagnosis. The winning teams received gift cards and, hopefully, the spark of an interest in medicine.

“When I started this, I said I’d be impressed if two out of six groups got the right answers. Well, all six did,” said Dr. Smith. “The students did a great job, the presentations were excellent, they were med school level as far as I’m concerned.”

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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 3:56 PM, 05.04.2016