MedEx program give high school students opportunity to shadow physicians

Eau Claire, WI (WEAU) -- It's never too early to start discovering what you want to do - that's the idea behind an area health system's medical experience program.

Mayo Clinic Health System-Eau Claire is helping a group of qualified students get a better handle on a potential career. They have the opportunity to see if they're truly interested in becoming doctors and which specialty could be right for them.

Meeting with a physician may only take an hour but being able to perform the exam means years of preparation.

Which is why Chief of Staff, Dr. Jose Ortiz with Mayo Clinic Health System started the MedEx program last year, to give high school students, like Bret Schwengler, the opportunity to shadow physicians.

“A lot of the kids that don't get this opportunity say, "Oh, I want to be a surgeon." Well, that's just a name. You don't know what it's actually like or what the lifestyle is actually like.”

Program mentor, Dr. Michael Fitzgerald is invested in MedEx. He says, “I think it's important to have some of the younger people be exposed to what we do on a day in, day out basis. If they're considering this as a career I just think it's a great opportunity for them to see some of the behind the scenes things that you may not see when you're in as a patient.”

Dr. Fitzgerald says having mentors is valuable, “I've had many mentors in my life through schooling and even now in my career. That's helpful to have people from one generation, that can help to train up the next generation

Another program mentor, Dr. Donn Dexter, says having similar opportunities is what helped him choose his career. He says, “That's what got me interested in medicine, was going to the hospital and meeting physicians. That's what got me started."

Dr. Dexter says the potential he's seen for program participants is promising. “I really enjoy my contact with the students, I found them to be bright and interested and it gives me hope for the future. We really need new doctors and I'm really encouraged by what I've seen in the student, “ Dexter says.

Schwengler says if you’re thinking of a career as a physician, you should definitely apply. He says, “ If you're interested in medicine and you're not really sure what field, I'd say try to apply to this, because it's really helped and I think it will help you along the way.

To participate in the MedEx program, you must be seriously considering a career as a physician, as well as serve 30 volunteer hours at Mayo Clinic Health System, write an essay and submit references.

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