Future doctors are being made in Stockton even though they are barely old enough to drive.
For two weeks, 24 students are taking part in a program called Decision Medicine which introduces high school students to the field of medicine. The students receive personal mentoring and visit local hospitals, medical clinics, and public health centers.
On Tuesday, they were at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton; touring the facility and learning CPR. This is just day two and over the two weeks the students will do a lot and are looking forward to different parts of the program.
Jason Sanchez, 16, is excited to visit Stockton’s Dameron Hospital because the students will get to learn about blood typing. Meanwhile, 17-year-old Lincoln High School student Tu Nguyen is looking forward to their field trip to San Francisco.
“We get to visit state of the art facilities and dissect a pig heart and I think that’s really cool,” Nguyen said.
What makes Decision Medicine unique is each of the students wants to be a physician. Sanchez knew his future career in eighth grade.
“How many people can say ‘I help people every single day’?” Sanchez said. “As a physician, I get to say that.”
Decision Medicine has been helping students achieve that goal for the past 12 years. Lisa Richmond, executive director of San Joaquin Medical Society, points out they currently have five students enrolled in medical school, and two are about to be.
“A lot of these kids may be the first child in their family to graduate high school, let alone college,” she said.
The program has another goal, relieving San Joaquin County’s physician shortage. According to Richmond there is only one primary care physician for every 1,700 patients.
“We are trying to get kids excited about medicine,” she said.