High schoolers get to intern at SF General Hospital


There is a lot to say about a human cadaver. "Seeing the insides, seeing muscles, bones, nerves, arteries, veins, all those things, it is something to remember," student Matthew Nguyen said.

Discovering the human body was just one of the many lessons introduced to these 12 high school students during their summer internship. The program is offered by the Orthopaedic Trauma Institute at San Francisco General Hospital where they get to shadow doctors.

"A lot of these students are coming in and they are part of their school's health programs," said program director Robert Rhee. They are interviewed before they are selected. The vast majority attend high schools in the West Contra Costa Unified School District and many come from underserved communities.

"This is an opportunity for these kids to have exposure to the medical field, not only doctors, but nurses, technicians, physical therapy, emergency rooms, etc," orthopaedic surgeon Amir Matityahu said.

They even witness several operations and are exposed to the surgical tools used during those surgeries. For example, students even use Midas drills on eggs, just like a surgeon would do to chip away at bone.

"It's rewarding when you know you can help someone else and to know the anatomy and physiology. It's very interesting for me as well, just to learn something and be able to apply it to myself," student Jasmin Vargas said.

Students are also given information about an imaginary patient and at the end of the internship, they must present their findings. "They went through the history. They went through the physical exam. They went through the imagery in order to find a diagnosis for the patient," Matityahu explained.

The cost of the 9-week program is about $3,000 per student. They rely on fundraising and some grants. All of the surgeons donate their time. Information on how to help fund the program is available through the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation.

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