Inspiring high schoolers to pursue careers in medicine
by Amy Vaerewyck
What do you get when you mix an Air Force nurse and an Air Force biomedical engineer?
A son who loves medicine.
While his parents applied their medical knowledge to benefit the military, Austin Badeau, a second-year student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, wants to apply his med school training to benefit others through teaching.
“The technological side of medicine intrigued me early on,” Badeau said. He remembers conversations over the dinner table about cancer treatments and surgical devices. “The complexity of the human body has also always intrigued me—and getting to make a difference in people’s lives is huge.”
Last summer, he made a difference for about 25 high school students.
As part of his Mentored Scholarly Activity (MSA) required by the School of Medicine, Badeau designed and executed a week-long, med-school-themed summer camp for juniors and seniors at Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs, Colo. He got the idea for the camp from his volunteer work for the School of Medicine’s popular community “Mini Med School” lecture series and from volunteering at on-campus workshops for students from Aurora Hills Middle School.
Then, he made the idea a reality by:
- Reviewing the entire first-year med school curriculum and re-writing it to fit the allotted time and the comprehension level of high schoolers.
- Determining clinical case studies and group workshops for the students to engage in.
- Meeting with school officials to schedule the event.
- Convincing his med school classmates to volunteer as instructors.
- Arranging for charitable loans of materials—like ultrasound equipment, an EKG machine and diseased organs.
- Recruiting students, through fliers and class announcements, to participate in the camp.
- Orchestrating 30 hours of lessons, workshops and instructions for teenagers.
By the end of the five-day camp, the high school students knew how to approach clinical cases with a detective eye, operate high-tech medical equipment and put sutures in pigs’ feet.
When you were in high school, did you learn to sew up wounds, experiment with ultrasound equipment and perform electrocardiograms (EKG)?
Badeau didn’t, which is one reason he thought the camp would be a great experience for students at his alma mater. But the camp was also a valuable experience for him, as it helped him find other med students with his same passion for teaching.
“That’s has been the best part of this year, really,” he said. “My goal was to try to create an idea to pass on to future med students, to create some sort of legacy.”
In addition to the summer camp, Badeau created a legacy by co-founding the Education & Teaching Interest Group at the School of Medicine.
With Badeau as co-president, the seven-member group seeks to provide a centralized resource for medical education on the Anschutz Medical Campus. They’ve organized lectures and workshops on teaching and learning, drawing 30-50 participants at each event.
One member of the group put Badeau in touch with educators at the Denver School of Science and Technology who now plan to use his summer camp curriculum in their classrooms.
“The nature of being in medicine is that you’re always educating someone,” Badeau said. “Whether it’s a patient, a student or a resident, we’re all going to teach someone eventually. The Education & Teaching Interest Group allows med students the opportunity to learn how to be better teachers.”
Published: Feb. 27, 2012