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Published on May 27, 2016

Helping kids see the future

Helping kids see the future

For Madeline Lane, 17, standing in the shadows has helped her chase her dreams.

The Falmouth High School junior has always been interested in the medical field, but after shadowing orthopedic surgeon Donald E. O’Malley, MD, as he conducted a surgical knee replacement through the Falmouth Hospital/Falmouth High School Job Shadowing pilot program recently, she is positive that a career as a surgical physician assistant is in her future.

“After watching shows on TV I had the idea that surgeries were extremely complicated, stressful, and gory and I didn’t know if I could handle that,” Lane said. “But after being in the room while a surgery was taking place, I found that I could look at the procedure through the doctor’s eyes and it wasn’t bad at all.”

The program, which attracted roughly 25 Falmouth High School students during this school year, offered the teenagers the chance to experience what it’s like to work inside a hospital.

Keith Bleiler, MD, a urologist at Falmouth Hospital, who has been instrumental in the program’s creation, explained that the project was designed to match students with doctors, administrators and hospital staff to give them a “super-focused” look at what these jobs entail.

With an endless amount of occupations within a hospital environment, he said the kids are exposed to careers that not only surround the medical field like physical therapy, radiology, and cardiology, but also professions in business, management, education and security.

“We want students to understand these careers beyond educational components and let them experience what it’s like to work in these jobs on a day-to-day basis,” Dr. Bleiler said. “They have the chance to find out if the career they are shadowing is something they could see themselves pursuing one day, or if they should turn their interests in a different direction.”

A Wealth of Educational Opportunity

For Dr. Bleiler, both shadow days over this school year – which exposed the students to surgical procedures like knee replacement, and vascular surgery – were a success.

Dr. Bleiler, who will hold another job shadow day this fall, said it’s these kinds of experiences and opportunities that the students can’t get anywhere else.

“There isn’t only a wealth of educational opportunity right under our noses at the hospital, there is also this humanistic component that exposes students to real-life patients and what they are going through,” he said. “With the help of everyone here, the students really understood that and got a great perspective on what it’s like to hold people’s lives in their hands.”

While most of the procedures the students sat in on were positive and upbeat, Monica Bleiler, project coordinator and hospital volunteer, as well as Dr. Bleiler’s wife, explained that there were some sad realities that students also faced. With so many families dealing with health issues, it’s not all “fun and games,” she said.