Two local Jewish high school students attended the seven-day Global Youth Summit on the Future of Medicine, June 22-28 at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., to learn about options in the field of healthcare while developing leadership, networking, and collaborative skills.
Philippa Chown, a rising sophomore at the Heschel School in New York and a member of Beth El Synagogue in East Windsor said her interest in medicine was inspired by her day school experiences. “I learned that it is important to help people,” she said. It helps that she loves working with people, doesn’t want a desk job, and has many physicians in her family.
Lindsay Chevlin, a rising junior at Jack M. Barack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr, Pa., and also a member of Beth El, said she often shadows her physician mother, and is herself a strong math and science student.
The Brandeis program, said Lindsay, the daughter of Jill and Brian Chevlin, exposed the students to many different aspects of medicine, including, for those looking toward research, the opportunity to shadow a pathologist.
“It was really interesting,” said Philippa, daughter of Andrew Chown and Ellen Hackman. “I did not know how much medicine was changing, and the advantages and disadvantages of the new technology.”
The students were broken into groups and asked to solve a problem and create an innovation. Lindsay’s group addressed the problem of HIV and Hepatitis B & C spreading rapidly in Third World countries. She explained that because the general population is often uneducated about these diseases, those who test positive — or even submit to testing — are often shunned.
Her group developed the idea of a syringe with two chambers, one for injecting the patient with needed medication and the other for taking and testing blood and displaying the results on an indicator in the syringe. Reviewing the advantages of this syringe, Lindsay said it is cost-efficient, can be administered by a nurse, and offers a result without needing a lab technician.
By using such a device, Lindsay said, “the families think you went to get a medication, and the issue of stigma is cancelled. It gives patients more control over whether to tell their families. If they tested positive, they would be put in touch with people who can give them treatment options and enough knowledge to deal with the situation.”
Philippa’s group developed the idea for a contact lens that can detect a diabetic person’s glucose level and change color when the level changes; this would be used instead of collecting blood with a needle. The contact lens might one day link with a cell phone app.
Participating in the summit, Philippa said, “definitely made me want to go into medicine for sure, and it opened up a lot of different fields that I didn’t necessarily know about.” The other students were “really great, smart, and I made a lot of new friends.”
Lindsay said she appreciated the ability to stay connected with the students she met this summer. “They all are smart students and hopefully will get somewhere in the medical field,” she said. “It’s all about connections with people who will help you in your process.”
Lindsay pointed to the additional benefit, for a day school student like herself, of meeting people who were not Jewish, knew little about Judaism, and who “didn’t know the real Israel.”
“I spent a lot of my time explaining to them not only about keeping kosher but about my religion and my beliefs, and they were very interested,” she said. “I explained Shabbat and holidays and how they kind of relate to their religion. We talked about how our religions are so similar and also so different.”