VALLEJO — Eptisam Lambo knows she wants a career in medicine. Her early choice is neurosurgery.
The incoming Mare Island Technology Academy senior may reconsider her specialty after attending the 2013 Biotech Academy Touro Summer Internship. A workshop on osteopathic medicine, presented by Dr. Janet Burns, piqued her interest.
This is the second year for the free program, the goal of which is to expose local high school students to the world of medicine. Touro University professors volunteer their time.
Dr. Shin Murakami, a Touro professor, organizes the program.
“They learn what they need to know and how to prepare to become physicians,” he said of the interns.
The osteopathic element makes it even more unusual: Touro is one of about 30 colleges of osteopathic medicine in the country.
Over the course of three sessions, each with different topics, the students were exposed to everything from aging to the study of diseases. Dissecting a sheep’s brain was also part of the curriculum. Interns also received an introduction into research by Murakami.
Burns led the teens through some isometric exercises after explaining what osteopathic medicine was.
“We focus on every muscle in the body,” she said.
Burns made an analogy, comparing when a mechanic takes care of the car’s alignment to an osteopathic doctor doing the same with the body. She pulled posters off the classroom wall to show students the body’s lymphatic system and 206 bones.
“Osteopathic manipulative medicine is a not a spectator sport, so we’re going to have to get down and dirty,” Burns said.
She worked as a rural doctor and delivered babies before specializing in osteopathic medicine. She said now she’s living in the best of both worlds. She gives her time to the internship program to educate the students.
“They are not learning this in school,” she said of good health practices. “If they play high school sports, they may get to do some stretching.”
Burns was exposed to osteopathic medicine early in life, watching her mother recover from a car accident with the help of chiropractors.
“The body heals itself but we take too much credit for the healing,” she said of doctors.
Lambo, who hopes to attend Stanford University, said she’s learned a lot through the internship and even overcame a brief fear of handling a human brain.
“I thought it was going to be freaky,” she said. “It was normal.”
Murakami received about 50 applications, including some from the San Jose area, for this year’s internship program. Eleven students were chosen after submitting information on why they wanted to participate, a one-page curriculum vitae and a teacher’s recommendation.
He said he hopes the interns who choose medicine for a career will become part of a “big helping loop” and end up giving back to their community.
That’s what Kevin Machino is doing. He’s helping out with the summer internship program as he prepares to enter his first year of medical school at Touro.
“I’ve done a lot of community work,” he said. “It’s something I’m very passionate about.”
Like Murakami, Machino said he feels the student internship program is a great place for high school students to learn if medicine is a good fit, in part because it involves a lot of study.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.
Students and staff run a free clinic Thursdays at the Norman C. King Community Center, 545 Magazine St., Vallejo. Services include screening physical exams, osteopathic manipulative medicine, health education, medication review, blood pressure check and immunizations. For information, call 653-6331.