High school students solve medical mystery at SCF Lakewood Ranch

kmoschella@bradenton.comMarch 23, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- High school students interested in pursuing medical and health care careers when they graduate got a realistic and up-close-and-personal taste of life inside a hospital Saturday, via medical simulation.

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation. through its STEMsmart initiative, hosted an interactive Medical Simulation Experience for about 30 students from Venice, North Port and Lemon Bay high schools in Sarasota and Charlotte counties at

State College of Florida's Lakewood Ranch campus.

With the help of SCF professors, community medical professionals, a cardiologist and their teachers, students experienced a full-day immersion in a virtual hospital, where they worked in teams to solve a medical mystery. They were able to analyze the symptoms and perform a complete physical exam virtually on a dummy, who filled in as a 32-year-old immigrant from Peru who became ill several years after coming to the United States. They mystery patient had experienced headaches, loss of memory, fatigue and breathing problems. Students were able to analyze family member responses, which added the human element to the diagnosis.

Ashlyn Woodruff, a senior at Venice High School who plans to pursue nursing at SCF, said the teamwork was a great way to bounce off ideas.

Olivier Bardette, a North Port High School sophomore whose parents are both nurses, said the hands-on experience is unlike anything you can learn in a textbook.

"I really liked how the different parts of the mystery connected together. This reinforced the information I learned previously in the classroom and my problem-solving skills," Bardette said.

After students completed their group workshops and evaluations, they presented their conclusions, solving the case of the medical mystery -- a tape worm contracted from a remote, rural area of Peru was ingested and lay dormant in the man's brain.

The medical experience concluded with a raffle for a one-semester scholarship to SCF.

Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.

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