Receive a patient file. Research and determine your diagnosis and treatment approach. Present your findings to a group of Attendings – and be prepared to answer their questions.
This experience is not typically associated with middle school, but for Lakehill Preparatory School science teacher Bryna Thomson’s seventh graders it has been part of the curriculum since the 2013-14 school year. While studying the human body has always been included in seventh grade science, it was not until Thomson attended some professional development classes that she got the idea to create Grand Rounds, a “project-based learning” lesson for this area.
Over the years, she has adapted it to create a challenge that gives students the chance to experience what becoming a doctor would be like. Students are divided into groups and create their own “clinics,” with each one staffed with a variety of medical specialists. Each clinic presents information about their patient, health issues faced, diagnostic tests run, and the diagnosis the “doctors” determined. They then present their recommended treatment, including medications required.
“I hope that this is a much more fun and interactive way to learn about the human body,” said Thomson. “It is a great deal of work, but students get a lot of experience out of it. I also want them to get an idea of different fields of study they can pursue in the future.”
Each year, the Attendings are composed of Lakehill parents who are doctors and nurses. This year’s panels were made up of veterans Paula Gillman, Brent Walker, Waleed El-Feky, and Ambareen Salam. New this year were Devra Langford, Kelly Johnson, and Denise Sullivan.
Seventh grader Isabel Ketterson enjoyed the experience, but acknowledged it was hard work. “I really liked it, but it could be stressful at times. You really had to work well with your group to get anything done.” She was most worried about presenting to the Attendings, “but it was just three nice doctors.”
"I was impressed with the comprehensive presentations of each group," said Sullivan, a pediatric anesthesiologist. "The students were able to assimilate and discuss fairly complex information and address all questions posed by the panelists in a very thoughtful and logical manner. The Grand Rounds format is the method used in medical schools and academic hospitals to present interesting and challenging cases, so I think the students were able to get a glimpse of how physicians approach patient care in a very realistic way. Hopefully, some will be inspired to pursue a career in the medical field."
"I enjoyed learning about the procedures that real doctors take to diagnose a patient and start their treatment," said seventh grader Vivek Patel. "It gave me an idea of what it would be like to be a real doctor and further supported my desire to be an orthopedic surgeon when I grow up."
By Lacie Kuhn
About Lakehill Preparatory School
Lakehill Preparatory School is an independent, co-educational college preparatory school for students in kindergarten through grade 12. Our challenging and nurturing educational community, supported by passionate faculty, inspires students to be independent thinkers and collaborative problem-solvers. Athletics, the arts, and a wealth of student activities and organizations promote teamwork and help develop valuable leadership skills. Lakehill is a special place where students realize their intellectual, physical, and creative potential while recognizing their responsibilities as members of their community.
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Visit our website at lakehillprep.org for more information.