Students Get Hands-On Experience at NSU Medical School Camp

Sheep brains, cow eyeballs, and cockroach legs. No, they’re not on the lunch menu. Think of those disparate pieces of animal matter as tools being used to teach high school kids about the world of medicine. Human, not veterinary.

"They’re bright and they’re enthusiastic, can’t ask for better than bright, enthusiastic students that want to help people," said Dr. Elaine Wallace, the dean of Nova-Southeastern University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine.

NSU is running a camp called AIM High, which stands for "achieve in medicine." They’ve recruited kids who are interested in becoming physicians, and they’ve got doctors and medical students showing them what it takes to get there.

"It makes me feel like I want to be a doctor more, much more,” said Robert Randylans, who came from Haiti to attend the residential camp.

AIM High draws kids from around Florida and the nation.

So what’s the deal with the roach legs? They’re pinned down and clipped to wires. Students are learning how electricity can make even a dead bug’s nerves twitch. They’re also seeing how the human brain’s electric impulses can be turned into a great party trick. A professor wired electrodes from one student to another. Then everyone watched in amazement as one boy moved his arm, and then the arm on the boy to whom he was wired also moved the same way. His brain was controlling the movements of the other boy’s arm. The campers were impressed, to say the least.

"I actually want to be an orthopedic surgeon, so I think this is really just opening my eyes to the field,” said Skylar Hicks, an AIM High camper.

Since all of the kids in the camp have their eyes on medical school, this is a test of sorts. If they’re squeamish about cutting into a sheep’s brain or a cow’s eye, let alone a human cadaver, maybe they ought to rethink their academic plans.

"It serves as both," said Dean Wallace. "Some of them decide that it’s not the right thing and some of them get more enthused that it is the right thing, so you get an experience."

A hands-on experience. If they can get past cutting into an eyeball and seeing fluid squirt out, they’re ready.

"It’s not every day you get to hold a sheep’s brain, so that’s pretty exciting,” said Olivia Charland, an AIM High camper from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale.

The campers live on campus, they go to lectures, and they’re exposed to the various specialties in medicine.

"It definitely makes me want to get into medicine more, getting a college experience, staying in a dorm on a university campus, it really inspires me,” said camper Megan McGeough, who said studying the animal body parts was fascinating.

For any student interested in becoming a physician, aiming high is a no-brainer.

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