Some middle schoolers are going pre-med. At McNair Middle School students get to take an elective medical science course.
These young students learn how to suture small wounds and getting an insider’s view of the human body by studying dehydrated organs at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
In a 20-minute presentation before the hands-on lab, the Southwest Independent School District students learned about medical careers, with a focus on the UTHSC campus’ offerings.
Harlandale ISD students taking part in a college readiness program known as AVID were also there.
Dr. Irene Chapa, who coordinates recruitment and outreach efforts at the center, said the field trip was designed to get kids excited about opportunities in the medical professions and help them start thinking about their future.
“I want you to leave here knowing how to get back,” Chapa told the students after a quick rundown of more than 10 career options in the medical and allied health professions, including physical therapy, biomedical science, dentistry and radiology.
After their shyness wore off, students wanted to know how much doctors earn and whether specializations are assigned to students.
Tila Blanquiz, 14, announced to classmates after the presentation that, although it means a long time as a student, she wants to go to medical school.
“I think at the end of it, it’s worth it,” she said. “You’ll be making good money and get to have the life you want.”
Joanna Garcia, 13, said she was supposed to take choir as an elective but got placed in the pre-medical course instead. Now, she loves it and says the course is helping her ace exams in her other science class.
“At first you think it’s all blood and boring, but you learn a lot more,” Garcia said.
The McNair elective, open to seventh and eighth graders, is among what may be only a few such pre-med courses offered to middle school students in the city.
The students will learn to read vital signs, perform CPR and take part in dissections — they had already dissected a sheep’s eye earlier in the year.
Field trips to medical facilities and local colleges help students connect with what they’re learning in class, said Southwest ISD science teacher Alfonso Menchaca.
“I feel that the earlier that we expose them to these opportunities, the more likely they’re going to be successful,” he said.