Whether they came from a family with multiple generations of physicians or were the first person in their family to graduate from college, no one medical student at Baylor College of Medicine took the same path to get to where they are now. That’s what Baylor students wanted to emphasize when meeting with a group of young men this summer at Future Doctor’s Camp, a summer camp organized in collaboration with a local nonprofit, Mission Transformation.
This is a part of Baylor College of Medicine’s School of Medicine’s Service Learning and Narrative Medicine Intersession course, where groups of 8 to 10 medical students work with community partners to complete service projects.
Mission Transformation works with young men of color between the ages of 9 and 13 to expose them to a variety of career options while also encouraging leadership, discipline and commitment to excellence. This summer, the organization collaborated with medical students at Baylor for the three-day Future Doctor’s Camp, which included learning basic histology, dissecting DNA from a strawberry, basic first aid and surgical knot tying. The camp also included a panel where medical students could talk to the middle schoolers about their path to medicine.
Medical students shared what inspired them to pursue a career in medicine, how some went to community college before going to university and how others took gap years between college and medical school. They shared the challenges they faced getting to where they are now as well as the work that goes into being a medical student.
According to Julius Bayone, founder of Mission Transformation, the organization’s goal is to invest in the middle schoolers until they are 18 years of age and provide them access to different careers and opportunities over the years.
“Our students will take a lot from this experience,” Bayone said. “We are grateful and look forward to continuing to grow the partnership with Baylor College of Medicine.”
Brennon Whitley, a rising 6th grader in the program and an aspiring anesthesiologist, said he found the camp inspirational.
Sincere Williams, a rising 9th grader, said that the program got him to consider medicine as a career.
“Being a doctor definitely wasn’t on the list of careers and going to this definitely got it in my top five,” Williams said. “You have a welcoming group of people learning to be doctors who are willing to help you and teach you along the way.”
“My favorite part was definitely the last day, just because I learned the most about what people are willing to do to become doctors, why people become doctors,” Williams said “Being a doctor is a struggle, but it leads to something amazing afterwards. It’s a fulfilling job, and I like fulfilling jobs. I like a job that makes me feel like I’m doing something.”
According to Reginald Toussant, lead for Academic Success Programs at Baylor, medical students need opportunities to spend time outside of the clinic and hospital once they start their clinical rotations.
“I think it’s important that the students have built-in spaces where they can do meaningful work in the community in non-clinical ways in different settings while also giving themselves time and space to decompress. Historically and unsurprisingly, our service learning partners are always beyond grateful for the work our students do, and the students seem to find immense value in being able to take the lead on the many exciting initiatives they’ve brought into fruition.”
“This experience was meaningful, especially because of my shared background with the children,” said Alexis Batiste, a medical student at Baylor and president of the medical school’s Black Men in White Coats organization. “From teaching kids how to listen to the different heart sounds with a stethoscope to teaching a 9-year-old how to tie square surgical knots, the camp was a warm and incredible experience. My favorite aspect was watching a young child rearrange their career goal of becoming a physician from top 50 on day one to top two on day three due to the exposure and mentoring provided through the camp. Seeing someone with similar backgrounds and experiences accomplish what feels like a dream to a child not only motivates but helps change that dream into an achievable goal.”
By Dipali Pathak