Jonathan E Fliegel; Kathryn Fessler; Elizabeth Rzepka; Christine Lindell; Phillip Kucab; Susan Adkins. University of Michigan Medical School
Objective: To describe this unique student elective that provides educational opportunities and experiences that are not typically available.
Methods: Each July for the past ten years, 12-15 fourth year medical students have selected our Pediatric Bleeding Disorders elective. Most of the month is spent at Camp Bold Eagle. Children with various bleeding disorders, ranging in age from 6-13 years old, attend as campers. Many return several times as campers and later as counsellors and camp staff. After a weeklong camp staff orientation, students are immersed in several roles during two one-week sessions. Their primary role is to be a cabin counsellor, which involves "24-7" monitoring of the children in their cabin. They also share duties as clinic physicians, health educators and camp staff. Each student also presents a short talk on the final day, with topics ranging from the orthopedic complications of hemophilia to behavioral modification techniques. Students complete evaluations at the end of the month. We reviewed these in order to assess the impact of this elective.
Results: As a result of this elective, students described gaining understanding in several areas, including: the effect on children of chronic diseases, such as hemophilia, HIV and ADHD; normal, difficult and abnormal behavior and its day-to-day management; teaching children about health and disease in interesting and age-appropriate ways; learning from and working with a truly multidisciplinary camp staff that included teachers, nurses, physicians and others; and being a part of an effective disease advocacy group. Students concur that it has been one of their most memorable rotations during medical school. Word of mouth has ensured that we have abundant interest in the elective each year.
Conclusions: This has been a win-win situation for all involved in this elective. We hope that our experience will motivate others to take advantage of their own unique opportunities for teaching, learning and service.