Pre-med club for kids offer medical, leadership experience

Sunday, October 4, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:40 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 5, 2009
Serenety Cave, 10, looks at a chest X-ray of a pregnant woman under the guidance of Dr. Shuaib Okponobi at the Oct. 3 meeting of Caleb, the Science Club. At the meeting, students looked at an assortment of X-rays and made electromagnets.

COLUMBIA — Arianna Prince had a serious look on her face as she explained how surgery via tele-medicine is conducted.

"In this case, the patient was in California and the doctor was in New York," she said.


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She looked every bit the medical professional she aspires to be — after she graduates high school, that is.

Arianna is only a senior in high school, but as a member of CALEB-The Science Club, she has the opportunity to gain real-life medical skills.

"When we go out there we just have so much fun," Prince said. "You really learn a lot."

In addition to learning about tele-medicine, Prince has had the opportunity to learn CPR and dissect a cow's eye. Over the summer, she even worked on a human cadaver.

The 15-year-old club is an extension of Granny’s House, a non-profit organization that gives kids a place to go after school.

“The club started in our home,” Granny’s House director Pamela Ingram said. “We started with our children and some of their friends, and from there it just grew.”

CALEB, which was started by Ingram and her husband, now has between 20 and 30 regular members, from fifth grade and up. The club, which aims to foster academic and leadership skills, is hosted by the MU Medical School and headed by Ellis Ingram.

"My husband was exposed to science early on, and it unveiled a passion for it in him," Pamela Ingram said. "I think he likes to give kids the same opportunity."

The name CALEB refers to a biblical Hebrew patriarch who believed God would deliver the promised land despite others' doubts. It is also an acronym for "Calling for Academic and Leadership Excellence and Building character and confidence."

"I tell students you have to work very hard to achieve a lot," Ellis Ingram said. "If they step up to the challenge, they can accomplish anything."

Recently, the club received a $4,500 grant from the Hancock Foundation, Ingram said, that went toward meals, transportation and supplies for the students.

While Arianna plans to attend nursing school, not every member of CALEB wants to work in the medical field.

Starr McLaurin, 12, wants to be a police officer. When she learned that police officers undergo emergency medical training, she joined CALEB to get a jump-start.

"They make it fun and creative," Starr said. "They make sure you really understand everything."

CALEB meets the first Saturday of every month at MU. At each meeting,  MU medical students, Ph.D. students and physicians act as mentors to the CALEB students while they participate in that day's activity.

"I think the multi-level mentoring is incredible," Pamela Ingram said. "Everybody is learning something or teaching something to somebody else."

After every meeting, the students eat lunch at one of the dining halls, Ingram added, which is an important part of the club.

"A lot of these kids consider college off-limits to them," she said. "But when they go to campus and eat and see kids that look just like them, it plants a silent seed that maybe college is for them after all."

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Ray Shapiro October 4, 2009 | 7:57 p.m.

("In addition to learning about tele-medicine, Prince has had the opportunity to learn CPR and dissect a cow's eye. Over the summer, she even worked on a human cadaver.")
Sounds like a great program.
Hope the participants also learn how to take temperature, read an over the counter medicine label, know the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, clean a scrape & apply a band-aid and handle a BP cuff.
Seems like there are a lot of parents out there who can't even figure out how do that much.
("COLUMBIA — Each year, many families and new parents in Missouri make unnecessary trips to emergency rooms and health care clinics because they lack basic health care skills and knowledge.")

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