Students learn about health professions at HSC Science Expo

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ally Bocanegra and Sarahi Villarreal, both sophomores from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School, dissect a sheep’s heart. <em>Click on the photos to see a larger view</em>clear graphic
Ally Bocanegra and Sarahi Villarreal, both sophomores from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School, dissect a sheep’s heart. Click on the photos to see a larger view 

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By Rosanne Fohn

Nearly 1,300 high school and college students from throughout South Texas got a close-up look at different medical, health care and research professions at the Health Professions Fair & Science Expo held Nov. 9 at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

Through hands-on activities, some using simulation manikins, students learned how to suture an incision, intubate a patient, administer balance tests, make dental impressions, and many other activities representing a host of medical, dental, research, nursing and allied health careers.

“This is the 11th consecutive year we have held this event and each time it is great to see the excitement of the students as they try a new activity that relates to a health career that they are interested in,” said Irene Chapa, Ph.D. Dr. Chapa is director of the Office of Recruitment and Science Outreach that coordinates the event at the Health Science Center.

“It was a great day all around. We had nearly 200 Health Science Center faculty, staff and students, from each of our five schools, helping with the event! It is this cooperative and collaborative spirit that helps this event so successful and enjoyable. I would like to extend a huge thank you to to all who helped make EXPO 2013 possible," Dr. Chapa said.
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Lessons beyond the classroom
This is the second trip to the Science Expo for Mario Fierro, a junior from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo (PSJA) Memorial High School, who wants to become a research scientist. Getting ready to dissect a sheep heart, he said, “Last time I was here they had us try on a cystic fibrosis vest that shakes you (like you would experience if you had the disease). It gives you a different perspective than in the classroom. And then there are things like this hands-on heart dissection,” he smiled.

Mary Torres, parent of Angelica Torres, a ninth grader from Cedar Creek High School, accompanied the group as a chaperone. “I think this is great! There are a lot of hands-on activities. Angelica (who was busy learning how to suture a cut on a manikin’s leg) wants to go into the field of trauma. She is hooked on Grey’s Anatomy,” she said.

Angelica’s partner in the suturing activity, Ruby Lopez, said she wants to become an ophthalmologist. “This is pretty challenging, but I’ll get the hang of it,” the 11th grader said, as Health Science Center medical student Faryal Siddique gave the girls some tips.

New experiences
Elsewhere, students tried to balance on large exercise balls (with help from physical therapy students), learned proper tooth brushing and flossing techniques using giant toothbrushes and set of artificial teeth, performed blood typing with clinical laboratory science students, inserted a catheter into an artificial arm and intubated a manikin with help from Emergency Health Sciences students.

Stacy O’Neill, a senior from Clark High School, inflates lungs on a manikin after helping insert a breathing tube.clear graphic
Stacy O’Neill, a senior from Clark High School, inflates lungs on a manikin after helping insert a breathing tube. 

 

Impressions
Joanna Fohn, a senior from Clark High School, said, “Making a mold of my finger in the dental session was fun and made me want to go into the dental profession.” Her friend, fellow Clark senior Stacy O’Neill, added that her favorite part was “talking to the first-year medical students. That really helped me think about preparing to see if medical school is something I might want to do.”

Margaret Cummings, from Marshall High School, said she enjoyed the biology, clinical skills and dental sessions. “I want to become a surgeon, more specifically, a plastic surgeon,” she said.

Olga Reyes, a health science teacher from PSJA and sponsor of the school’s Health Occupations Students of America chapter, said, “The students leave so excited about all these things. They all say, ‘I want to come here!’” Her colleague, Arnold Villarreal, added, “They are excited because this is more of a real-world experience instead of the classroom.”



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