Compassion the Theme at Montgomery Blair High School’s Fourth Annual Career Day.
“People want to know you care, before they will care how much you know,” words of career advice from Matthew Cooper, M.D., director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation at the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute, to a room of 200 high school students hanging on every word.
“It is the best and I love that it’s a life-changing experience,” said Dr. Cooper of his career performing life-saving kidney transplants.
A panel of six MedStar Health medical professionals visited Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland on March 4, 2016 - the fourth year of a partnership between MedStar and the high school known for its science and technology curricula.
The panelists’ specialties ranged from physical therapy, radiation medicine, occupational therapy, transplant surgery and speech pathology.
Participants shared their career journeys, as students gained an understanding of the required number of years in education and training for each specialty and just how hard they’ll need to work. But aside from talk about SATs, GREs, GPAs and MCAT scores, the common theme that kept coming from each panelist - providing great care in medicine takes compassion. The importance of simply caring.
You have to have a heart,” said Menghes Ogbamicael, a registered radiologic technologist and radiology clinical instructor at MedStar Georgetown. “You must be compassionate because you could meet your patient at the worst time of their life.”
Others echoed this message.
In response to one student’s question about stress and delivering bad news to patients, MedStar Georgetown physical therapist Sameer Mehta explained that the role of a medical professional is to walk with patients through some of their most difficult and challenging physical and emotional struggles.
“This is a hands-on career,” said Mehta, “and it’s the best!”
“Yes, you have to care and you have to enjoy working with people,” said Stephanie Cone, an occupational therapist at MedStar Georgetown.
After grabbing the students’ attention with a loud, robotic-sounding, electrical voice device during her introduction, MedStar Georgetown speech pathologist Eliza Peoples quickly explained her role in caring for patients.
“I focus on helping someone learn how to communicate better even if they no longer have an actual voice,” said Peoples.
“Our students have really been exited for this!” said John Haigh, Montgomery Blair’s STEM Academy director. “MedStar Health Career Day means that they are going to learn about their future options both academically and financially. Also, the importance of getting good grades message hits home in many ways because, we as teachers can tell them over and over, but when actual professionals say the same thing, our students realize in a new way that they need to do well.”
By the end of the session, Blair students were challenged to decide which career was truly the best, as each panelist said they had “the best job in the world!”