A pipeline to success

UPPER EAST SIDE, N.Y. – Lauren Simmons, 15, didn’t expect treating a fake patient would feel so real.

The rising junior is one of seven New York City high school students participating in the Medical Scholars Pipeline Program (MSPP) at Lenox Hill Hospital, a four-week summer seminar designed to expose high achieving minority students to careers in healthcare.  

“We had a patient – well, it was a dummy,” she said. “It had dementia, a fever, low blood pressure and his heart was beating really fast, and we had to understand why this was happening. I found that really cool, because it put us in the minds of an emergency medical doctor.

“It got real really fast,” she said.

The program was launched in 2010 by the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine in order to increase higher education opportunities for underrepresented minorities in the field of medicine - minority participation rates in medical fields have remained relatively stagnant for decades.

“I see myself in them,” said Dr. Yves Duroseau, chairman of emergency medicine, Lenox Hill Hospital. “They may not even realize it now, how meaningful this summer is and how it’s going to be a piece of their success.”

Dr. Duroseau, along with other emergency medicine staff, gave the students a chance to get hands-on experience. They learned how to do CPR, a tracheotomy and more through simulation training.  

During another training session on their last day students learned how an aneurysm is treated, after observing an actual surgery performed by Dr. Rafael Ortiz, chief of neuro-endovascular surgery and interventional neuro-radiology at Lenox Hill Hospital. They learned even more about neurosurgery from Dr. David Langer, chairman of neurosurgery at Lenox Hill Hospital.

“They’ve gotten hands on experience to see if their interest in medicine is really their calling and their passion, and to help motivate them to continue down this path,” said Christopher Witkowski, medical board coordinator at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Witkowski led the students through their four-week journey with the MSPP, which was expanded to Lenox Hill Hospital in 2017. Lenox Hill is the first hospital at Northwell Health to adopt the program and host students onsite, as part of their regular curriculum, on a consistent basis.  

“What we tried to do here at Lenox Hill was provide them a hands on experience and show them how healthcare as a whole works – from medicine, down to surgical services and subspecialties,” Witkowski said.

The students toured the Dept. of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Dept. of Pediatrics, Cardiovascular Medicine, Pathology, Division of EndocrinologyDept. of Surgery, Dept. of Emergency Medicine and Dept. of Neurosurgery. They also spent time at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital (MEETH), where they shadowed ophthalmology staff and sports medicine experts from the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma (NISMAT), as well as Lenox Health Greenwich Village.

The students also visited the neo-natal ICU, which sparked an interest in Nasheem Webster, 15.

“That was one of the best things we did,” he said. “Seeing how early the kids can be born and the care that they need… I’ve always loved kids, but I never thought that I wanted to go into the pediatric field.”

Kimberly Sosa, 16, on the other hand, came into the program already interested in pediatrics.

“My passion for pediatrics just grew,” she said.

Like Sosa, Webster and Simmons, Khady Gueye, 15, hopes to return to Lenox Hill to shadow a doctor in her field of interest – general surgery.

“I think they gave us more than what we expected,” she said.

For more information about the Medical Scholars Pipeline Program, please visit medicine.hofstra.edu or contact Gina Granger at 516-463-7550.

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