Mini-Med School participants learn about variety of health topics

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Students and teachers at WVSOM’s Mini-Med School

Members of 15 West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM)  student clubs presented a variety of medical scenarios to 30 community members and high school students during the eighth annual Mini-Med School that was offered each Monday evening in February.

Second-year student Lisa Smith coordinated the event with faculty advisor Andrea Nazar, D.O. “This was a wonderful opportunity for WVSOM students to connect with community members and vice-versa.The energized students shared their understanding of the weekly topics through interactive activities used to help explain difficult concepts. The participants were engaged and eager to learn,” Smith said.

Student presenters introduced a different topic weekly. In week one, the students created an inflamed gash on a presenter’s foot. The wound appeared to be an antibiotic resistant MRSA infection. The “patient” presented that he had stopped using the antibiotic as soon as he noticed an improvement after a couple of days. The students explained the causes of MRSA and how bacteria resistance can develop. The participants viewed and compared gram positive and gram negative bacteria through microscopes and discussed ways that patients and doctors can prevent the development of antibiotic resistance.

The case presentation for week two covered an unresponsive student presenter who was dropped off at the emergency room suffering from an overdose on opioids. The scenario demonstrated how a patient might present if they were suffering from an opioid overdose. Using brain sections from the anatomy lab, the students offered information about the science behind addiction as well as information on the severity of the opioid epidemic and some proposed solutions. To close the case, the students demonstrated how emergency personnel would maintain the airway, start an IV, assess for pupil constriction and prepare and push Narcan to a patient who had lapsed into respiratory failure.

As the weeks progressed, Nazar enjoyed observing the camaraderie that developed. “Although the Mini-Med School has a bit of a different flavor each year, depending on the students involved and topics covered, a special bond always develops between our students and community members,” she said.

During the week three presentation, students explored memory loss by using models of the brain to help explain how memories are formed and how they can be lost through trauma, as well as degenerative neurological diseases. A student presenter acted out an elderly patient encounter with a doctor. The patient had recently suffered many memory lapses and came for an initial assessment. The students then engaged participants in a mental status exam that checked long- and short-term memory and tested higher executive function. They ended with a discussion of normal memory loss due to aging, versus memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease.

The final week ended with a discussion about cancer. The students explained the importance of screenings and other preventative measures along with information about traditional and supplementary treatments. During break-out sessions, the students taught the proper method of giving breast and prostate exams.

Pence Springs resident Mark Persinger attended the evening sessions with his high school daughter. He said he thought the Mini-Med School was an engaging learning experience.

“There was a mix of hands-on demonstrations, activities and lectures presented by the WVSOM students that kept us focused on the topic,” Persinger said. “Competing against my daughter in a quiz-show style format on the topic of superbugs was great fun, as well as the activities concerning the brain and our memory. We were impressed by the knowledge of the students and their passion for the subjects.”