An ‘extra dose’ of medicine
April 17, 2009
Most people haven’t mapped out their career path by the time they graduate high school. In fact, some graduate from college and foray into the real world without the slightest inkling of where life will take them. But Park City High School (PCHS) senior Jessica Bird has a better idea than most about what she will be doing for the next decade, and she’s already laying the groundwork.
This summer, Bird will attend the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine in Los Angeles, a 10-day program for students interested in pursuing careers in the medical field. To attend the forum, students must be personally nominated by teachers or selected based on exemplary academic achievement and leadership potential. Bird is only the eleventh student to be nominated from Park City in the past 17 years.
Gina Agy, a nurse for the Park City School District and the instructor for the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) course at the high school, chose to nominate Bird for the forum based on her professionalism and bedside manner. "She’s caring, considerate and nurturing," Agy says. "I think she exemplifies what the nursing profession entails."
Bird decided that she wanted to become an obstetrician/gynecologist (Ob/Gyn) several years ago. She recalls being 13 years old and waking up early to watch "A Baby Story," a reality show on the TLC channel that traces a couple’s experience from the final weeks of pregnancy to the delivery to the first weeks with a newborn.
But Bird knows that delivering babies isn’t as glamorous as it may seem on TV. Participating in the Forum on Medicine will provide an insider’s look at what it takes to succeed in the medical profession. "Supposedly the program makes you realize if you really want to go into medicine," says Bird.
She has already had a taste of what it’s like to work in a professional environment. By the end of Agy’s CNA course, which is in its first year at PCHS, Bird will have completed 16 clinical hours at a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Orem. "During the clinicals, Jessica’s very compassionate and engaged with the residents," says Agy.
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Bird also works part-time as an assistant for Dr. David Jaramillo, a podiatrist who practices in Park City once a week. "If he sees an ingrown toenail, he’ll make sure to call me in to help," she laughs.
The first in her immediate family to go to college, Bird will begin classes at the University of Utah in the fall. She plans to major in one of the sciences and enroll in premedical courses to prepare for medical school and ultimately an internship and residency as an Ob/Gyn. In the long run, Bird says she could see herself practicing in Salt Lake City.
During the forum, Bird and other high school students will be exposed to a variety of career options and educational pathways. They will visit prominent institutions and attend presentations from top medical professionals, educators and researchers. Topics for discussion will include global epidemics, life as a medical resident, and ethical and legal issues facing those in medical professions.
As a participant in the Los Angeles program, Bird will have the opportunity to experience firsthand the facilities at cooperating institutions such as Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
The program culminates in a simulation that challenges students to consider a specific issue in health care and to present recommendations for achieving public awareness and concern for the issue.
Bird says she’s nervous but excited about attending the forum. "It’ll be fun to meet people with similar interests," she says. "It’s only a minority of students that gets to go to something like this, so I feel very lucky."