South Florida Hospital News
Thursday August 6, 2020
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January 2007 - Volume 3 - Issue 7
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Medically-Minded: Students at American Heritage Prepare for their Future Professions

Kyle Robinson, a senior at American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida, wants to enter the medical field one day. Fortunately for him, he doesnít have to wait long. His school is one of a small, but growing, number of private schools that offer specialized education tracks, such as the Medical Professions program that Robinson is in.

The Medical Professions program is designed to meet the needs of the high school student interested in pursuing medicine and the sciences in college and beyond. From ninth through twelfth grades, students in the program complete courses in all subject areas and are also offered the opportunity to take medically-focused classes not typically available in high school.

Courses in Genetics, Pathology, and Medical Terminology, among others, help to groom each student for a career in medicine as a physician, dentist, physical therapist, chiropractor, or veterinarian. The program exposes the students, at an early age, to the various medical professions, allowing them to further define their interest and make informed decisions about their future careers.

Most high school students would not be exposed to any sort of medical education or information other than what they might see on primetime television dramas like "ER," "House," or "Grayís Anatomy."

Students in the Medical Professions program, on the other hand, many of whom are headed for Ivy League colleges, have the unique advantage of being able to experience hands-on instruction, medical lectures and demonstrations, medical internships, health facility and college tours, and other educational activities that directly support their interest in medicine and the sciences. Robinson is no exception.

Robinson, who is head of the Pre-Med Club at his school, a group of like-minded students that has swelled to an impressive 150 members due to the popularity of the Medical Professions program, was selected for the program based on a number of criteria, including a high grade point average and ranking in the 90th percentile or above on entrance exams.

Robinson has excelled in his studies and has been provided with the opportunity to advance his medical education by observing a local physician and faculty member at American Heritage, Dr. Joel Silverman, at work.

Dr. Silverman, a board-certified internist and Chief of Staff at North Broward Medical Center, is new to American Heritage School. He takes the place of the former program medical director, Dr. Nicholas Suite, a respected neurologist who recently left the area.

Dr. Silverman invited Robinson to his local internal medicine and outpatient practice in Deerfield Beach. In compliance with HIPAA regulations, the law designed to protect the privacy of health information, Dr. Silverman allowed Robinson to meet patients, observe medical procedures, and learn about laboratory practices.

"Kyle is a fantastic student. When he was at my practice, he was able to observe an echocardiogram, and even had an echocardiogram performed on himself. He then brought back what he learned, plus an ultrasound of his heart, for his classmates to examine." An echocardiogram is a test used to examine the heart. Using ultrasound waves to create sophisticated imaging, the echocardiogram displays a cross-sectional slice of the heart, including the chambers, valves, and the left and right ventricles. Viewable on a screen, the images can also be recorded on photographic paper or videotape, providing a permanent record of the examination. It was this permanent record that Robinsonís classmates were able to study in class.

Other courses that students can take include Organic Chemistry, Microbiology, Anatomy & Physiology, and Physics. Exposure to these advanced courses gives students an advantage when they enter college.

The curriculum is enhanced be providing students with direct contact with health professionals, such as Dr. Silverman. In fact, sometime during the second semester of their senior year, after they have completed their coursework, students in the program enter an internship with local physicians. Each student meets with 25 different physicians, observing them in practice, and even during surgery.

Dr. Silverman is proud to be associated with program. "These students are ambassadors to their communities and families. They can share their knowledge about the current topics we discuss in class, such as basic life support, advanced directives, bird flu and HIV/Aids. They are open-minded, driven and disciplined; their behavior matches perfectly with the type of personality needed to succeed as a medical professional."

Other faculty members also contribute greatly to the program. One such faculty member who teaches multiple courses is Dr. Carlos Pulido, a physician trained in Columbia with a background in Fire Rescue. Another person extremely significant to the program is Dr. Doug Laurie, vice president of American Heritage School.

Dr. Laurie, who also has a chiropractic degree, developed the medical professions program about six years ago with six other physicians. "We developed the curriculum to excite, challenge, and expose the children to the practice of medicine on an honors level. It has been extremely successful and is growing beyond our wildest dreams."

Dr. Laurie is proud of the success of the students in the program. Robinson, who will be graduating in the summer of 2007, recently found out he was accepted to Columbia University via early admission.

"This program helps children make life changing decisions in high school, so when they get to college they are more focused. Some of the first students in the program are already entering medical school," Dr. Laurie beams.

For more information, please contact Dr. Doug Laurie, vice president in charge of the Medical Professions program at American Heritage School, at (954) 472-0022.
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