“There’s a key right here!”
Seven high schoolers had one hour to administer a life-saving antidote to a medical dummy as the culmination of four days of hands-on learning through Ohio University’s Medical Academy program in Dublin.
These students were part of the group piloting an escape room simulation as part of the program. To complete it, they had to solve puzzles, balance chemical equations and apply skills they learned, ranging from performing ultrasounds to intubations.
The program gives rising high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to explore careers in the medical field. This year, there were 99 applicants for 56 spots. Participants came from 37 high schools as far as Findlay. The program is free for students.
Some came into the program having known their career aspirations since childhood, and others were still unsure. But in both cases, they felt the program helped them understand where they want to go in life.
“The program has been amazing,” participant Tallie Crabtree said. “It’s been the most influential and helpful thing I’ve done for my future.” She is a rising junior at Marysville Early College High School.
Another participant, Nelsonville-York High School rising senior Madison King, felt the program helped her realize her interest in family medicine or being a physician assistant.
“I’ve been on the fence about if I actually want to do the medical profession or if I’m just doing it because I like medical shows, but this really solidified that this is what I want to do,” she said.
The program, which is held at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Dublin, is co-led by Drs. Sherri Reynolds Torma and Tim Cain. It just concluded its eighth year.
Reynolds and Cain are not alone in running the program, though. They are joined by three medical academy scholars, eight graduate medical students and junior counselors.
“We give a lot of ownership to our medical students. It’s learners teaching learners,” Cain said.
The escape room is the newest addition to the program curriculum, and it began as a brainchild of Reynolds. Last year, the program’s scholars designed a virtual escape room, and this year was the inaugural in-person version.
Participants split into eight teams for various demonstrations and competitions during the week, and the winning team got to test the escape room. The winning group called themselves the Sickness Slayers.
The escape room came to a nail-biting finish, with the group barely missing the deadline. But it was a controversial end, with a malfunctioning puzzle costing them several minutes. Even still, the Sickness Slayers agreed it was a successful week.
Reynolds was happy to see the students enjoy themselves and build friendships through the program.
“The energy level is just dynamic and exciting. They are super engaged. The first day they come in very timid, and they’re placed in teams with people they don’t know; and by the end of the day, you see friendships and energy. And Day 2 was just an explosion of excitement,” she said.