June 18--From the time her little sister was born at Naval Hospital Jacksonville's facility at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Natalia Rodriguez has been interested in medicine.
That's why the 16 year old rising junior at Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts, began attending Duval County's medical magnet school when she was in the sixth grade.
It's why she spent a week last summer participating in Naval Hospital Jacksonville's Science, Service, Medicine and Mentoring (S2M2) program, which she called "a life changing experience" that convinced her to become a physician specializing in obstetrics.
So this week she is back, one of 10 Darnell-Cookman students going through S2M2 training, an option Darnell-Cookman students have had since 2010. Tuesday, she and fellow Darnell-Cookman students Elizabeth Mauch, a 14-year-old rising sophomore, and Rashay Jenkins Jr., a 15-year-old rising sophomore, spent the afternoon in Naval Hospital Jacksonville's simulation lab, learning medical techniques while working on computerized manikins. The Darnell-Cookman students were joined by Anthony LaFlash, a 15 year old rising sophomore at Orange Park High School, who was on his first day at the hospital as a Junior Red Cross volunteer.
Among the techniques Rich Cook, director of the simulation lab, showed the students was inserting IV needles and using needles to draw blood. That posed a problem for Natalia, who admitted she isn't comfortable around needles. The first time Cook held one up, she turned away. When he showed her the IV needle, she looked horrified.
She wasn't the only one uncomfortable with the needles. As Cook held up a needle designed specifically to administer a test for tuberculosis, Rashay, shook his head.
"When I got my TB test, I broke out in a cold sweat," he said.
If they were uncomfortable with needles, the students seemed to be having a wonderful time with all the other techniques they were learning. They checked pulses and measured blood pressure, first on a computerized manikin Cook called SimMan, then on each other.
With Petty Officer Third Class David DeFiore controlling SimMan wirelessly from his computer, the manikin could speak, moan and groan and make various body sounds. He could blink and cry. Students could put a tube in his mouth or touch his tongue.
"He's not going to bite," Cook assured them.
Students took turns listening to SimMan's heart, lungs and bowels using a stethoscope. Cook made a battle of the sexes contest out checking SimMan's pulse. Natalia and Elizabeth went first. Both got thumbs up from Cook after coming very close to the pulse of 125 that DeFiore had programmed.
"Girl power," Natalia said with a grin.
"Don't let the girls show you up," Cook told Rashay and Anthony.
They didn't, each getting within a couple of beats of SimMan's new pulse of 188.
Rashay said he is attending Darnell-Cookman partly because it's an excellent school, one which the Washington Post recently ranked 15th on its list of America's most challenging high schools. He would like to become a medical illustrator.
Elizabeth said her goal is to become a forensic anthropologist like the main character in her favorite TV show, "Bones."
Naval Hospital Jacksonville, which includes a hospital at NAS Jacksonville and five branch clinics in Florida and Georgia, does the week long S2M2 program for Darnell-Cookman students each summer. Besides spending time in the simulation lab, the students do rotations in family medicine, cardiology/internal medicine, surgery/anesthesiology, orthopedics and the maternal infant unit. They also spent a morning at the Hospital Corpsman University, learning about techniques to stabilize patients in combat situations.
Charlie Patton: (904) 359-4413
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