Posted January 27, 2017

From middle school to medical school

A group of students at Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine designed workshops for Philadelphia 8th graders to learn about careers in the medical field.

Two medical students showing middle school students a procedure in the hospital.
Photography By: 
Jennifer Lee
Fourth-year medical student Alec Koffer (standing) and first-year medical student Vishal Gandhi (on table) give a demonstration for 8th graders from a North Philadelphia elementary school during a workshop Jan. 25 at Lewis Katz School of Medicine.

A group of doctors-in-training from Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine are paving the way for Philadelphia middle schoolers to consider careers in health care by giving them a peek inside the world of medicine through a series of workshops.

The first workshop the med students hosted took place last week when a group of 8th graders from Dunbar Promise Academy, located adjacent to Main Campus in North Philadelphia, visited the medical school for a day.

Jonathan Ragheb, a fourth-year medical student who helped organize that visit and two future workshops for students from other city schools, said a partnership with It Takes Philly inspired the idea, which he described as “from middle school to medical school,” and helped the med students get the plan started.

“We really don’t know exactly what these students are exposed to opportunity-wise, so our goal is to try to help them to dream big, and to do that by showing them what’s out there,” said Ragheb, who graduates in May and plans to pursue a career in internal medicine.

This kind of project really benefits everyone."
-- Jonathan Ragheb, a fourth-year medical student

Ragheb said he and a small group of fellow students—Bobak Pousti, Glen Martin, Rebecca Lin and Yangyang Shi—developed the workshops, and that other student volunteers helped run them. For the Dunbar workshop, the 8th graders learned about anatomy, ultrasounds, heart health, brain anatomy and bone health. Sarah Smith-Benjamin, a fourth-year medical student, helped some of the young scholars had the chance to measure their own heartbeats with an EKG, Ragheb said, and other students, including Daniel Zarif, showed the group real brains donated to science to teach them about brain anatomy, strokes and concussions.

“They were really ecstatic to get up close to that,” Ragheb said.

Medical students plan to host groups of 8th graders from a charter school in South Philadelphia and a middle school in North Philadelphia in February for similar workshops. The workshops also fulfill a requirement for medical students to conduct a scholarly project related to community engagement, Ragheb said—but he said they do much more than fulfill an academic assignment for the doctors-in-training.

“This kind of project really benefits everyone,” Ragheb said. “Many of these students are coming from locally underserved schools, so the chance to reach out to them and know what they experience has been priceless. It works both ways in enriching our experiences.”