It's about middle-school students, as young as 12, taking part in medical camps at a variety of hospitals around the country, where they do things like dissect an eye, stitch up cuts on pigs' feet, prick their fingers to test their own blood type, and *run a mock code.*
From the article:
Paramedics race in a mannequin: A 45-year-old woman in cardiac arrest.
The kids, each assigned an ER job, spring into action under Wagner's direction. One pumps air into the "patient's" lungs. One inserts a tube to open the windpipe. Three trade off CPR. Another sets up the defibrillator, calling "Clear!" before each of three shocks. Others give injections of heart-stimulating drugs.
Ten minutes later, they abruptly fall quiet as Wagner asks how long they should keep trying before declaring death. No one volunteers.
"How often do patients pass away?" 14-year-old Lark Nash of Warrenton finally asks.
Probably once a week, Wagner responds, describing the hardest part of his job. Nurses reveal a body bag lining the bed, and the students zip it over the mannequin.
This is traumatic enough for a medical student. If the aim of the program is to scare children about death, and turn people off from ever wanting to walk into a hospital, I think it's a great idea. But why are we exposing 12-year-olds to body bags and defibrillators? What good is this doing? This isn't what the job is most of the time anyway. Why do we want to traumatize children?
There was a high school student shadowing me last week. I forgot how little we know in high school. I asked if he wanted to take the patient's blood pressure and he said yes... then looked at me blankly. So I showed him how. He told me at the end of the week that he realized now he never wants to see patients, so he's going to try to become a researcher instead of a doctor. "Why don't you want to see patients?" "They seemed so annoying and stupid." "They weren't stupid," I said. "A lot of them just aren't very well-informed, and that's what makes the job so important." "They didn't even speak English," he said. "That doesn't make them stupid." "And what about the one who didn't know that he could lose weight if he stopped eating french fries every day?" "I think a lot of people don't think about what they eat, unfortunately."
What we need isn't mock codes and defibrillator training. What we need is a real middle-school and high school health curriculum that students are required to take, to learn something about how their bodies work. Not the science of it, but the practical piece-- what blood pressure means, how diet and exercise impact weight and health, why cancer needs to be caught early, what can happen when you fall on your head, the difference between a cold and something worse, when to go to an emergency room, how to read nutrition labels on food, what you shouldn't stick inside of your mouth, nose, ears, genitals and rectum. Practical things like that. How not to get pregnant, although I thought that's what health classes already teach.
Patient yesterday with all of the signs of pregnancy. "When was your last period?" "I don't remember." "Is it possible you're pregnant." "No. We use birth control." "What kind of birth control?" "He pulls out." "That isn't birth control." "What?"
I had another patient who was feeling chest pain and walked a mile to the hospital instead of calling for an ambulance-- or even calling a friend to drive him. "Oh, I'm self-sufficient." "You're having a heart attack."
But middle-school kids need to learn about body bags and how to dissect an eye? Middle-school kids need to learn that pulling out is not birth control and they should rush to the ER if they're having crushing chest pain.