A mentoring program in our area is putting a new spin on the effort to encourage future doctors. “100 Black Men of Savannah” is pairing high school students with physicians to give them their closest look yet at what it takes to actually work as a doctor. The group of mentors is partnered with St. Joseph-Candler Hospitals to a pre-med summer camp for high school students from the Savannah area. For more than a week, the students did much more than listen to lectures from doctors, about life as a doctor, they got to live it.
Three high school students were selected. The actually get to wear white coats and scrubs inside St. Joseph-Candler’s Women’s Hospital. It’s not just a costume, it’s more like a warm-up suits for things to come if they follow their dreams and complete medical school. The trio was selected following an open online application process. The pool of candidates is made up mostly from the Savannah area students mentored by the 100. The students did not have to wait in the waiting room or watch the surgery rotation on a video. The were actually in the operating room for a real surgery. The president of 100 Black Men of Savannah says the changes are meant to place the students in a real world setting. “This year, for the first time, the students are specifically assigned with a doctor to be with that doctor throughout the day…for days on end and learning the details of how they operate.” Zimmerman said. He adds that the change to the pre-med summer program shrinks the number of participants, but says it improves the quality of the camp.
The aspiring doctors say the change is definitely for the better, as they share the impact of witnessing a real surgery. ” At first I was scared..I was nervous when I got in there..I was like.. Oh my gosh! This is so cool! I don’t want to do it, but watching other people do it, oh my gosh this is cool! Said Mitchell. Observing the surgery in-person is prompting junior, Reagan Jenkins to re-think a career in the operating room. “No I don’t want to be a surgeon..uh…I actually think I want to be a pediatrician now. I’m not really for the surgeries.” Jenkins said. But for one senior in the group, time spent in the operating room has helped give her focus about the medical specialty she’d like to pursue. Brielle Oliver says she now believes she can cut it as a surgeon. ” It was…appealed to me and I actually think I might want to do that….Surgery!” Oliver said.
Zimmerman says 100 percent of the young people they work with go to college and he personally knows of one young man who beat the odds when it seemed he was going down the wrong road. “A young man that many had given up on…even his mother had given up on him. Well, he sent me an email just two and a half months ago it says I am a doctor. He is now a medical doctor. He has completed his residency at this point from the University of Connecticut Medical School.” Said Zimmerman. The med school summer camp also gave the campers a glimpse of the hours doctors work. All commented about how early they had to arrive at the hospital to begin their day with the doctors. The camp wrapped up on Friday.