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Shadow Day

Scholars' Visit Reinforces Dreams of Medical Careers

"Do any of these mothers suffer from diabetes?" Saiyaz Kazi asked DeWayne Pursley, MD, MPH, Chief, Neonatology.

DeWayne Pursley, MD, MPH, Chief, Neonatology, takes the 2009 Red Sox Scholars on a tour of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on Friday, Dec. 11.

The question sounds like something one of Pursley's medical colleagues would ask. But instead, the inquiry came as sixth graders from schools around Boston toured the NICU on Friday, Dec. 11. Kazi, 12, attends the Washington Irving Middle School. He was one of two dozen members of the 2009 Red Sox Scholars program who toured the Carl J. Shapiro Simulation and Skills Lab as well as the NICU. The program, launched in 2003 and funded by the Red Sox Foundation, rewards 25 academically talented, but economically disadvantaged Boston Public School fifth graders with $10,000 college scholarships. BIDMC has been the proud "presenting sponsor" of the program with staff serving as Medical Champions. The students were inducted over the summer. Now sixth graders, they came from middle schools all around the city to tour the medical center.

DeWayne Pursley, MD, MPH, Chief, Neonatology, told the sixth graders that 46 babies were being cared for during their visit. The babies must be able to breath reliably, control their temperature and be fed by mouth in order to be discharged.

Before entering the NICU, the students donned gloves, caps and masks. Armed with pens and paper to take notes, they followed Pursley through the NICU as he explained the reasons babies find themselves on this unit. Forty-six babies were being treated, including six sets of twins and three sets of triplets.

"To go home, these babies must be able to do three things on their own," Pursley said. "They must be able to breath reliably, control their temperature and be fed by mouth in order to gain weight."

He then explained what the different monitors in each babies' room measured. Heart rate, respiratory pattern and oxygen saturation are all tracked.

"Learning about the babies is very interesting," said Kazi, who hopes to one day become a diagnostician. "I didn't know how to treat jaundice before today's tour."

Pursley said the babies born prematurely, at 36 weeks or less, must spend at least 24 hours in the NICU.

In the skills lab, the students learned how medical students and residents practice procedures using computer programs and robots, honing their skills for surgery on actual patients.

Viannessa Sobrecary, 12, is a student at the William Orhenberger School. She said visiting the skills lab and the NICU reinforced her dream to become a nurse.

"My mom and most of my aunts are nurses," Sobrecary said. "They've been very encouraging. I think I would like to be a travel nurse and help sick children."

Posted December 14, 2009

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