Teaching students the value of medicine
Kaiser Permanente Fresno Physician Vivian Torio, MD, didn’t hesitate when asked if she wanted to mentor a student in the Doctors Academy program this summer.Dr. Torio grew up in the small town of Tranquillity and said she knows how hard it is to get exposure to medicine, especially for those students living in the rural communities of Fresno County.
“I think this is a great program, especially here at Kaiser when they can go to any specialty,” she said.
The University of California-San Francisco Fresno Doctors Academy Program started at Sunnyside High School in 1999. The program – offered at Sunnyside, Caruthers and Selma high schools – is for those students interested in pursuing a health care career. A major goal of the program is to encourage students to return to the Valley to work as medical professionals.
Prior to their senior year in high school, the Doctors Academy students job shadow medical professionals to get hands-on experience.
Ten of the students are interning for six weeks at KP Fresno.
Brian Ayala, a senior at Sunnyside High School, is working alongside Dr. Torio. His internship started on June 12 and he said he’s already seen a lot in just a couple of weeks.
“The patient interaction is great,” said Ayala, who is primarily interested in becoming a nurse. “I’m really thankful for this opportunity. I’ve learned a lot. There’s so much to retain.”
Ayala spends most of his time with Dr. Torio, but has also been working alongside other physicians to gain even more experience.
“He’s a rockstar,” Dr. Torio said. “I really wish I had more time to spend with him, but any time there is something he can see, I just tell him go.”
That’s a new component to the internship program this year, Pathologist Sidney Carpenter, MD, said. He’s mentored Doctors Academy students for years, but said this year the KP Fresno physician mentors really wanted to make sure all of the students have a well-rounded experience.
The physicians stay in touch with one another and if there is a procedure or surgery going on they invite other students to watch.
“The whole hospital is their mentor,” Dr. Carpenter said. “If there’s something going on in the hospital they want to see, they should go there. I want them to get as much exposure to all of the positions available as they can.”
Dr. Carpenter is mentoring Selma High School Senior Karyme Garcia. Garcia is interested in breast cancer, so Dr. Carpenter said she also spends a lot of time working with Chief of Oncology Brandy Box-Noriega, MD, so she can learn the whole process of breast cancer from diagnosis to treatment.
Garcia said she’s taking in as much as she can and is really enjoying getting to learn all the different aspects of providing great care to patients.
“I’m just so grateful to get to explore all of these different areas of medicine,” Garcia said.