Students Get a Taste of Medicine

*In the current issue of the Capistrano Dispatch

This is  a monthly column written by President/CEO Frank Talarico

Frank Talarico, JSerra President & CEO

The old man gasped for air, his blood pressure dangerously low and dropping. His heart rate was extremely rapid. The nurse heard crackling and vibrations in his lungs. The situation was bad. And getting worse.The diagnosis: Rule out sepsis, an infection rapidly spreading through the bloodstream.

The prognosis: Without quick and decisive treatment, death from hypoperfusion.

Fortunately, the scene playing out at Mission Hospital happened inside a conference center classroom. And the old man? He’s a lifelike breathing, talking patient simulator called SimMan.

SimMan is an important teaching tool that distinguishes JSerra’s medical program from a handful of others around the globe. Twenty-two high school juniors and seniors huddled breathlessly around the dummy as Connie Gagliardo, Mission’s executive director of critical care and trauma services, attempted to revive him with fluids pumped through an IV.

“His blood pressure is going up,” she announced. “His circulation and heart rate are normalizing. His blood pressure is increasing.”

She leaned toward SimMan, and asked how he felt.

“I’m so sick,” SimMan groaned.

“Thank God he’s talking,” Gagliardo said. “He feels so sick, but his ability to now talk is a great sign of improvement. He was in a state of severe shock. We must keep assessing. Remember: Look. Listen. Feel, and treat.”

SimMan wasn’t the only one in shock during the recent lesson.

“Most students should feel a bit panicked about this type of work,” Gagliardo said afterward. “They are probably asking themselves, ‘Can I really do this?’”

The answer, she says, is yes—with hard work and determination.

As studies progress and clinical experiences are lived they will become more comfortable in crisis situations, she said. Today was about how to systematize the assessment and treatment of chaos and crisis.

That’s part of the beauty of the program. Not only is the material life-and-death, it prepares students for the rigors of medical school. Some will discover that medicine is not for them, and that’s okay.

Senior Tom Joseph says he’s more pumped than ever about becoming a doctor like his father.

“I love the program because it gives real hands-on experience with the hospital and real life practice of medicine,” he said. “It allows me to learn what to expect in college and later in med school.”

Read more: The Capistrano Dispatch – Students Get a Taste of Medicine