September 22, 2009 — Approximately 50 Charlottesville High School students will take a step closer to medical careers when they participate in their own "white coat ceremony" Thursday at 3:40 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center.
The students are the first group to participate in the school's Medical Sciences Club, an extracurricular pilot program designed by University of Virginia medical students and faculty to expose students to the field of medicine and health-related professions.
In May, a panel of U.Va. Health System nurses, doctors, dentists and medical technicians met with Medical Science Club students on Grounds to discuss careers and to take the students on a tour of the medical simulation center. A series of other educational activities will be scheduled throughout the school year based on three areas: the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system and diabetes.
"The purpose of the Medical Sciences Club is to get younger students interested in medical careers, to engage and motivate them," said Dr. Marcus Martin, former chairman of the U.Va. Health System's Department of Emergency Medicine and interim vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity at the University. "U.Va. medical and pre-med students will serve as mentors, to help with science courses and problem-solving in collaboration with the high school teachers to bring out the best in these students."
The club is the result of extensive planning between Charlottesville High School staff and the U.Va Chapter of the Student National Medical Association, the Daniel Hale Williams Pre-Med Society, Minorities in Nursing Today and the U.Va. Office for Diversity and Equity. The Charlottesville City School Division received a grant from the city of Charlottesville to pursue a health science curriculum similar to that of the Health Sciences Academy in Virginia Beach.