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Local High School Student Attends ‘Med School’

Summer camp includes X-rays

and a visit to the morgue

Massapequa resident Zachary Chang considers himself a mathematics and science kind of guy. When his mom suggested a possible future as a physician’s assistant for the Plainedge High School senior, it seemed like a natural fit; as did the recent summer science camp in which Chang participated.

Chang, along with 23 other area high school students, recently took part in a Medical School/Camp Program sponsored by Adelphi University and Winthrop-University Hospital.

“There will always be a need for science and it is a good way to learn life skills,” says Chang.

The idea for the camp was developed in part by Dr. James D. Capozzi, chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Winthrop Hospital.

“Summer camps usually are sports related,” said Dr. Capozzi. “I thought it would be a good idea to have one for those interested in science and medicine. This way, kids who are interested in the field have a chance to see what really happens in medicine.”

The program covered a variety of topics relating to healthcare and science. Students heard from healthcare professionals and got hands-on experience with surgical procedures under the guidance of Dr. Capozzi.

Students sawed bones with an electrical surgical saw and learned to suture a wound using real surgical needles and sutures. The patient for suturing exercise: an orange. They even visited the hospital’s morgue.

“We want to get kids early,” said Dr. Capozzi. “The goal is to give students an idea of what the pathway is and break any misconceptions about the field. A lot of kids may wonder what’s available in medicine, but there are so many different fields. There is so much in medicine for kids to learn.”

The students also received frank advice about what’s required for a career in the field.

“Anything in medicine is a lot of work,” said Dr. Capozzi. “You give up your whole early adulthood to do it. You’re giving up nine, 10, 11 years of your life, and you need to have a desire to delay gratification. You need to have that drive to do it, and if you don’t, then you’re not going to make it.”

The students who took part in the program appeared to have this drive, as it was not easy to get into the program. Applicants were required to write an essay detailing their interest in science and provide a letter of recommendation from a science teacher or guidance counselor addressing the student’s level of academic success and maturity. While more than 80 students applied, only 24 made it.

The program also hit on topics such as human genes, medical imaging technology, cancer therapeutics and oncology.

“What I hope the kids get out of the camp is excitement and interest,” said Dr. Capozzi. “It’s exciting to see some enthusiasm in the medical field.”

As the program wrapped up, Chang, who hopes to study to be a physician’s assistant was both excited and interested.

“The camp has been great,” said Chang. “I love the kids and teachers. It’s something I can take with me and remember forever.”