Brand new this school year, Biomedical Pathways is a course designed to provide rich, meaningful learning experiences through connections with the local community. Bloomfield Hills High School students enrolled in this course recently experienced a fascinating and relevant guest visit from Dr. Anne Chen, who is Chief of Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield, and Infectious Diseases Program Director at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Dr. Chen also teaches as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine. In addition to these multiple professional roles, Dr. Chen is a parent of two students in Bloomfield Hills Schools.
Dr. Chen shared a wealth of knowledge in a 90-minute class period, engaging and inspiring the students and faculty alike. Among the many topics presented were an explanation of the myriad medical careers students can explore; the science behind COVID-19; a history of pandemics around the globe; graphics, graphs and charts on a variety of infectious diseases; fascinating scientific details about many infectious diseases; and an explanation of a typical work day, both before and after COVID-19. Biomedical Pathways students were invited to share questions in advance, and nearly 70 questions were submitted. Dr. Chen covered all of these and more, between the slideshow presentation, and a question and answer session at the end of the presentation.
Junior Sammy Curcuru, one of the Biomedical Pathways students, shares a thoughtful reflection of Dr. Chen’s guest visit: “I think it's safe to say I paid better attention in Dr. Chen's presentation than I have for most of my online classes this year... she did a great job illustrating the pressure that healthcare workers are under right now, and she really put into perspective the kind of uphill battle they're dealing with in regards to COVID-19. I learned a ton from her lecture, but I think I was definitely taken aback by the idea that students who want to go into medicine, are only halfway done with their education by the time they graduate high school. Dr. Chen didn't really change my opinions on much, but instead she solidified them. I could feel her helplessness when she was explaining how frustrating it is that the media and country has started to turn their back on science. I think Dr. Chen really opened my eyes to the sacrifice that healthcare workers are making right now to care for patients, and I had a sense of guilt knowing that I might not have been doing everything I could to prevent the spread of this horrible disease. I'm very thankful she took the time to talk to us, and I think hard workers like her are the backbone of this country.”
Isabella Ashtari, another junior enrolled in the course who was powerfully impacted by Dr. Chen’s visit, shares, “I think it was such a cool opportunity to hear from Dr. Chen. As someone who is currently interested in healthcare as a future career, I see the importance of collaborating with and learning from people from the medical community, and specifically being exposed to different specialities that we might pursue in the future. Because you are sacrificing a lot to become a physician, it's really important to know everything you can about it and reaffirm your decision after being informed, so that you are best prepared. I'm grateful that Dr. Chen took the opportunity to talk to us! The biggest takeaway from Dr. Chen's lecture was the impact just one person has regarding Covid, and even just in general. With Covid, she was telling us how you HAVE to assume that your best friend has Covid, even if they have no symptoms. Up to 20% of people with Covid don't show symptoms. And 1 person, on average, affects 2.5 people. Those 2.5 people go on to affect more people, and so on. That's why it's so important for people to be safe- it really does affect everyone. In addition, when we saw her daily work schedule, it was so cool to see how much she was doing for people every day, and it emphasized the impacts of individual people in the community, which was inspiring.”
Ashtari notes that Dr. Chen presented information that isn’t being shown in the media. “Dr. Chen talked about how no matter how old you are or what pre-existing conditions you have, when you get Coronavirus, your first 5-7 days you may experience the expected viral symptoms. It's the second week where it can progressively and dangerously advance in some people. So, she told us that if someone gets it, they should spend the week watching their symptoms, like shortness of breath, because if something is off by the end of week 1, it's better to get help earlier.”
Matt Huhta, one of the Biomedical Pathways teachers, reflects, “Dr. Chen certainly opened my eyes to the reality of Covid, and had some great advice to share. One of the things that stuck out to me was that she enjoyed being an infectious disease physician because she likes solving puzzles in order to properly treat her patients.”
Carving out time in a very busy schedule to visit the Biomedical Pathways class, Dr. Chen values educating students of all ages. Chen notes, “I am inspired every day to provide the very best clinical care to patients while fulfilling my role to educate the next generation of physicians. One of the oldest and largest academic centers in the United States, Henry Ford Hospital instructs over 700 medical students and 800 medical residents each year. It is exciting to educate and encourage a younger group of learners as they consider a future career in medicine!”
Biomedical Pathways is one of three new Pathways programs in the BHHS curriculum this year, along with the Media Arts Pathways program, and the Agricultural, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) Pathways course. Next year, an Engineering Pathways program will also be available to BHHS 11th and 12th graders. Bloomfield Hills High School is at the forefront of modern education, providing unique and exceptional opportunities for our students to make real-world connections and explore potential future careers.