UAB Students host Camp Cardiac for exposing High Schoolers to careers in medicine

By Eric Taunton
The Birmingham Times

Camp counselors, top row from left: Cami Lee, Justin Bailey, Lamario Williams, Jared Watson and Poojitha Balakrishnan. Bottom row from left: Nicole Lassiter, Aashka Patel, Morgen Owens, Mario Expinosa-Hernandez. (Provided Photo)

More than a dozen Jefferson County high school students interested in a career in medicine spent a week at the University of Alabama at Birmingham last week learning about cardiology.

The students attended Camp Cardiac, a nonprofit organization that offers programs hosted by first-year medical students across the country to high school students.

“Birmingham is one of the greatest academic centers in the country but we are in one of the sickest parts of the country as well,” said Lamario Williams, Camp Cardiac liaison, UAB undergraduate, and MD and PhD program participant.

Williams said the program is important for children nationwide, especially those of color. “We have the opportunity to give these kids some confidence that they can go into medicine . . . but also we’re able to lay the groundwork for them on how to get into medicine.”

The camp focused on cardiology, anatomy, and physiology, Williams said.

“We did a lecture on coronary artery disease and heart failure and ways to prevent them . . . one of the groups actually taught us about stress because that is a huge part of some of the communities these people come from.”

Since heart issues are prevalent in the black community the students learned about diseases and how to prevent them and also how to help their families that may have heart disease. “By preventing heart disease in themselves they’re also helping family members that have heart disease and that’s some of the best motivation that you can have,” Williams said.

A number of first year medical students participated in the camp including Cami Lee, Aashka Patel, Jared Watson, Justin Bailey, Nicole Lassiter, and Morgen Owens.

Williams said he was pleased to see so many professionals help out.

“We had faculty to help out and they are extremely busy and obviously we’re super appreciative of them for being willing to help get these high school students exposed to their profession …  we also had people of different medical professions like optometry, nursing, dentistry, physician’s assistance, all of those specialties. We had them help out and tell these kids some of the options that they have and really try to recruit them into health care.”