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Paging future docs? Program lets teens explore

Posted at 8:00 AM, Feb 25, 2016

CINCINNATI -- While watching her father deal with medical visits in preparation for a second kidney transplant, high school student Nicole Rosiello decided she might like to become a doctor. Through the TAP MD program, she is getting an up-close look into that potential career path.

In its sixth year, TAP MD takes high-achieving high school juniors from the region into area hospitals and other medical facilities to observe firsthand what it’s like to work in the medical field. The yearlong program was launched by the Health Collaborative (formerly the Greater Cincinnati Health Council) and is run by Cincinnati MD Jobs. So far, 100 students have completed the program.

In addition to educating and encouraging future medical professionals, the program aims to build a potential pipeline into the local medical community.

“The goal is to showcase the different health care systems in our community and get kids exposed to how great the medical community is in Cincinnati,” said Heleena McKinney, program coordinator. “If they do choose a career in health care, then hopefully they will consider coming back to our region once they are done training.”

Some of the monthly outings include: observation of live surgeries; a visit to a simulation center used to practice medical procedures on high-tech dummies; a presentation by a flight doctor on a helipad; and a visit to a respite care center for homeless people. Students also have a chance to ask professionals about the work-life balance of different medical positions.

A $125 admission fee covers some of the costs of the program – including personalized lab coats for the students – and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center contributes $2,000 to the program annually, McKinney said.

Students in TAP MD observe surgeries, visit a medical-procedure simulation center, talk with doctors and other professionals and listen to presentations. Provided

The 49 students in the 2016 group – the largest yet – kicked off the year by watching a kidney transplant at University of Cincinnati Medical Center via live video stream – a particularly interesting experience for Rosiello, as her father awaits a new kidney.

“We had a surgeon there explaining all the parts and walking us through the significance of each little thing we were seeing on screen. After a while I wasn’t grossed out, I was just fascinated,” said Rosiello, a Loveland resident and junior at Cincinnati Country Day School.

After completing the program, approximately 80 percent of the students indicate that they plan to go to medical school. Several others have expressed an interest in becoming nurses or nurse practitioners, or pursuing medical engineering, McKinney said.

Ursuline Academy senior Kavya Hiryur of West Chester said the experience solidified her ambitions to pursue a career as a physician.

“Since I was 10, I’ve wanted to be a doctor,” Hiryur said. “No one in my family is a doctor, so when I heard about the program and that once a month I would be able to meet with physicians and learn so much about the field, I knew it would give me experiences I hadn’t had before.”

Hiryur said one of the highlights was visiting a simulator – one of only a few in the country – that mimics conditions under which an in-flight military physician might perform a procedure.

“This program reinforced that I want to be a doctor,” Hiryur said. “I went to every event, and now I have so much more passion. I know what they do behind the scenes and how they feel about that and how they affect a patient.”

A soccer teammate – and former TAP MD student – encouraged Quinn Shim, an Anderson Township resident and junior at Seven Hills School, to apply. Shim was interested in pursuing a medical career in part because of his own experience dealing with Crohn’s disease. His father is also a cardiologist.

“I knew this would give me exposure to many fields. I get to meet influential leaders in the area and make connections so I know what to expect if I pursue medicine,” Shim said.

Some students learn about TAP MD on their own, but most are encouraged to apply by a teacher or counselor at their school. McKinney said she contacts staff at every high school – public and private – in the Tri-State to get the word out. For details about the competitive application process, visit http://cincinnatimdjobs.com/tap-md/