Health Council Program Finds 'Untapped' Teen Medical Talent
On the morning of Monday, June 16, UC Health transplant surgeon Tayyab Diwan, MD, scrubbed into the operating room to perform a liver transplant surgery. Though life-changing for the recipient, these procedures are relatively common for the UC Medical Center’s transplant team—which performed 63 liver transplants in 2013, at least one a week.
Across the hospital, a less routine event took place: 19 local high school students sat in UC Medical Center’s surgical amphitheater, watching each move of Diwan’s hands and surgical tools on a large projector screen. For some audience members, the screening could propel them into a medical career.
The students were a part of the Greater Cincinnati Health Council’s TAPMD program, a "career exploration” program for interested high school students who excel in their science classes.
TAPMD’s goal is to expose juniors and seniors to a variety of health care settings, encourage their entry into medical school and, ultimately, increase the number of future Tristate urban and rural physicians.
Students apply in the fall of their junior year and participate in monthly events through the fall of their senior year. Visits include both inpatient and outpatient settings, the Center for Respite Care and sessions on medical simulation and research.
Diwan has served as the program’s Physician Champion for two years, and arranged the live surgery viewing in addition to the program’s regular schedule of 12 health care encounters.
In his role as Physician Champion, Diwan says he hopes to encourage students to consider the larger meaning behind a medical career.
"It’s a big thing to go into medicine—you shouldn’t choose it just because your dad or mom is a doctor,” he says. "When you say ‘I’m a doctor,’ you’re putting yourself into history, since the beginning of medicine in 3000 B.C. You’re going to be part of something bigger.”
Although he jokes with students about his preferred specialty, he says he ultimately wants them to pursue the area of medicine that makes them happy.
"The key is that you should just love to go to work every day,” he says. "Whether it be surgery or something else … every day you go to work, you have the potential to truly help someone. Not everyone gets that chance.”
Diwan says the program has grown successfully with help from the local health care system. TAPMD is sponsored by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and supported by a variety of partners, including the College of Medicine and UCMC.
Since the first class in 2011, when 57 percent of the class reported that they were going to pursue medical school, more and more TAPMD students have decided to look into medicine. Last year, 89 percent of the class indicated they would pursue medical school.
Health Council recruitment coordinator Heelena McKinney says the program’s application requirements are modeled after the UC College of Medicine’s admission criteria. She says the program is "extremely informative” for students and prepares them to do well in their undergraduate careers.
Stefan Marasligiller was a member of the surgical amphitheater audience June 16. The junior from Turpin High School said he joined the program after he wanted to go into a science-focused career at the beginning of the school year.
He says the TAPMD program has been an "awesome experience” and has focused his career plans on surgery.
"I definitely like science but I didn’t know if wanted to be a chemist, an engineer or a scientist,” he said. "But I like working with people and being hands-on, so I decided I wanted to go into medicine.”