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TUSM Students Bring "Mini Medical School" to 9th Graders


March 3, 2015

Temple Health News Digest

See Page 4 in the Temple Health News Digest, March 2015



TUSM student Diana Huang teaches two 9th graders at Building 21-Ferguson school in Philadelphia.

Twenty North Philadelphia 9th graders are enrolled in an 11-week “mini medical school” thanks to Temple medical student Diana Huang and Temple University School of Medicine’s Center for Bioethics, Urban Health and Policy (CBUHP).


The students attend Building 21-Ferguson, a new Philadelphia public school that develops specific competencies in students and helps them explore career options. Located at 7th and Norris Streets, the school currently contains only

9th grade and has no staff who teach health/ medicine-related competencies. That’s where Temple comes in.


“Building 21 approached us three months ago about creating a health and science elective for its students,” says Norma Alicea-Alvarez, DNP, PNP-BC, Assistant Professor and Director of Community Engagement at CBUHP. “We asked Diana, who is interning with us, if she would like to take the lead on this project and she ran with it.”


Huang spends two hours a day, Monday through Thursday, teaching at the school. She is overseen by a school district teacher and assisted on most days by other Temple medical students and faculty members who volunteer their time. At the end of the course, which runs from January 5 until March 17, the students will have received nearly 100 hours of instruction.


Course topics include anatomy, physiology, microbiology, first aid, CPR, exercise and nutrition, common illnesses and treatments, research, and health advocacy. The experience also includes field trips to Temple University School of Medicine and Temple University Hospital, which Temple faculty have helped to facilitate.


“The course gets students excited about learning and about their futures,” says Huang, who is currently interning for a year at CBUHP before reentering medical school as a third-year student in the fall. The curriculum also fits nicely with CBUHP’s mission of improving health equity in the community by extending resources and opportunities to those who are underprivileged.


“I’ve found the students eager to learn, and I’ve heard they are even talking up the course with other peers at their school,” says Huang, whose interests lie in family medicine and population health.


At the end of the course, each student will present a major project centered on a specific disease or health career. Some of the topics students have picked so far include “Why do people go bald?” and “What causes stress?” In exploring these topics, they strengthen competencies in reading and writing while also learning scientific concepts.


Huang and Alicea-Alvarez expect that the partnership with Building 21-Ferguson will continue next school year thanks to the strong support shown by Temple, its students and faculty.


“This has been a lot of work, and I definitely have a new respect for teachers,” says Huang. “But seeing things ‘click’ for the students is very rewarding. Sometimes I’m not sure they understand what I’m teaching, but then you see their test scores and realize, ‘Yes, they got it!”