Students become the doctors at Spectrum Health’s first outreach program

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Spectrum Health opened their doors to 25 West Ottawa high school students to work alongside medical professionals while training hands-on with state of the art medical equipment Monday.

Students practiced CPR, learned how to stitch an open wound, conducted ultra sounds and administered catheters in the Jacob and Lois Mol Cardiovascular Simulation Center, where doctors are hoping to get high schoolers excited about medicine in the hospital's first-ever outreach program.

Dr. Robert Cuff, Director of the simulation center, says it's important to get students involved in medicine since cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of death and also because West Michigan is facing a shortage in vascular doctors due to retirement.

"If we can get students in West Michigan interested in medicine and help generate that interest, then hopefully they'll stay here and become the next generation of people caring for us," Dr. Cuff said.

The $3 million simulation center was built in the basement at Spectrum Health roughly 9 months ago.  Monday, students planning to dedicate their lives to medicine were able to practice alongside doctors while getting a feel for what it's like to help save a life.

"It's easy to study and memorize things but when you're actually doing it, it's a whole different experience," said Alex Ky, a Senior at West Ottawa High School.

Alex is heading to Michigan State with a 3.9 GPA and plans to study bio-chemistry and pre-med. Alex was one of 25 students hand-selected by Bob Myers, an anatomy teacher at West Ottawa helping students get ready for a career in medicine.

"There are certainly future doctors in this group," said Myers. "Some day, I'm going to be the geriatric patient and they're going to be the ones doing some medical procedure on me."

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