Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences

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OSU-CHS News > 2013

Nov. 21, 2013

High school students learn more about medical school at Med-Xtravaganza

Wesley "Tanner" Cole (center) and Catherline Schneider learn about the brain from second-year medical student Sydni Jones at Med-Xtravaganza on Saturday.
Wesley "Tanner" Cole (center) and Catherline Schneider learn about the brain from second-year medical student Sydni Jones at Med-Xtravaganza on Saturday.

For Wesley "Tanner" Cole, Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine is his only choice for medical school.

"Our family bleeds orange," explains his mother, April Cole. "He has a brother at OSU in Stillwater, and his grandparents, aunts and uncles are all OSU graduates."

The Altus High School junior wants to be an orthopedic surgeon practicing in Oklahoma.

"When I was a freshman, I injured my shoulder," said Tanner Cole. "We went to an orthopedic surgeon and he was able to repair my injury. After that, a surgeon was all I wanted to be."

Cole was one of the more than 100 Oklahoma high school students who attended Med-Xtravaganza on Nov. 16 to learn more about the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and get a taste of medical school.

The OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa hosts Med-X in the fall for high school students and the spring for college students to learn more about OSU Medicine.

"With our state experiencing a shortage of primary care physicians, especially in rural Oklahoma, it has become imperative that we recruit and train physicians who want to remain in our state to practice," said Dr. Kayse Shrum, OSU Center for Health Sciences president. "Med-Xtravaganza is a fun way to expose our state's high school students to the reality of what it's like to be a doctor."

Ali Nolan and Courtney Willis, seniors at Keys High School, decided to attend Med-X after participating in Operation Orange, a series of OSU Medicine summer camps for high school students held across the state in June.

"We really wanted to see the campus and participate in more of the activities," said Nolan. "It's really cool to see these things up close and participate in activities like suturing. I'm excited to do more of it."

Med-X and Operation Orange are OSU-COM initiatives to recruit rural Oklahoma high school students for careers in medicine.

"One of the main factors that determines where a physician will practice is where they grew up," said Shrum. "Recruiting students from rural Oklahoma communities will help ensure that we have physicians who want to return to these communities to practice after they graduate."

Med-X students participated in a number of hands-on demonstrations, including studying the anatomy of the human heart, lungs and brain, learning chest compression techniques, practicing clinical skills by listening to a simulation of a patient's heart and lungs and testing suturing skills.

The demonstrations gave Nolan, who wants to be a rural Oklahoma physician like her father, Dr. Doug Nolan, a chance to test her own medical knowledge.

"I've always been interested in the medical field and being a doctor," said Nolan. "Math and science are my best subjects in school and a career in medicine is something that just comes naturally for me."

Participants also had the opportunity to meet with OSU medical students, who were conducting the demonstrations. Second-year medical students Peter Sullivan, Carley Booher and Amanda Jantz shared their own experiences of getting into medical school.

"When I first toured OSU-CHS, I really liked the family atmosphere of the campus," said Sullivan. "There's this feeling of let's do this as a team between the students and the faculty and it's not as competitive as some medical schools. I'm really grateful that we have the opportunity to work together and help each other."

Madison Slawson (right) and Boone Roberts learn suturing from second-year medical student Andrea Partida.
Madison Slawson (right) and Boone Roberts practice suturing with second-year medical student Andrea Partida.

Madison Slawson attended Med-X with her mother, Paulla Slawson, to get additional knowledge for when she applies to medical school.

"We have really gained a lot of information that will help as we're planning her college education," said Paulla.

Madison, a Kiowa High School senior, is interested in pursuing a career in family practice or as an oncologist.

"All my life, I've wanted to be a doctor, there's nothing else I want to do," she said. "I really like the family atmosphere at OSU and how supportive everyone is of the students."

The Slawsons first learned of OSU's medical school from a family friend whose son graduated from the program and recommended that Madison check it out for herself.

"I've learned a lot of interesting things just from participating in the demonstrations," said Slawson, who also attended an Operation Orange camp in Tahlequah over the summer. "By attending Med-X, I think I will be more prepared when I apply for medical school."

For high school students interested in medicine, Sullivan recommends getting as much experience as possible before applying.

"Shadow a physician in your community, get some clinical experience and come to events like this," he advised the students. "Most physicians love having people shadow them because they love to share their passion. Getting all of these experiences will really help you in the long run."

To learn more about Med-Xtravaganza, Operation Orange, Dr. Pete's Student of the Day physician shadowing program or other opportunities to learn more about medical school, visit medicine.okstate.edu.

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