It’s not unusual for students getting out of high school to be clueless as to what they want to major in once they get to college or even what they want to do for the rest of their life, but that is not the case for Caruthers High School students Genesis Benavides and Prateek Basraon.
Benavides, 16, and Basraon, 17, are more than halfway through a six-week job shadowing program in Clovis. The students are getting to know the ins and outs of what it’s like to be a surgeon, pathologist and pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente’s Clovis Medical Offices.
The students are part of a select group of about 30 students at Caruthers High School who are taking part in the Doctors Academy program – a challenging school-within-a school program at Caruthers, Selma and Sunnyside High Schools for students interested in health professional careers.
The program started at Sunnyside High School in Fresno in 1999 and is dedicated to providing extended academic, personal, and career counseling as well as test preparation for ambitious students wanting a career in the medical field.
Benavides, who will be a senior in August, said she has always been interested in the medical field ever since she underwent surgery to repair her ACL.
“I have always been interested in seeing open cuts and seeing surgeries and all that stuff,” Benavides said. “Before I got my ACL surgery I looked up the surgery and saw myself really interested in it.”
Initially, Benavides wanted to pursue a career as a nurse, but after opening her eyes to other careers in the medical field and realizing that she loves babies, she had a change of heart.
“This is something I would like to do someday because I enjoy seeing all the patients, especially the babies since I love kids,” Benavides said. “Sometimes they can get a little crazy, but I enjoy being with kids because they are so fun to be around and they always make my day.”
Benavides said she heard about the Doctors Academy program when she was in the eighth grade and knew she had to sign up.
“At first I didn’t know what to expect out of this, but I am glad I took this because if I didn’t I know that later on I wouldn’t be able to receive a lot of opportunities,” Benavides said. “If I were to start after college and go straight into the medical field I feel like I wouldn’t know what to do, but now I have a better feeling of what to do.”
After three weeks shadowing three different Clovis doctors, Benavides said she has a better understanding of what to expect if she decides to pursue a career as a pediatrician.
“At first I thought it was going to be a slow process,” Benavides said. “I thought there wasn’t going to be a lot of patients, but then I realized later on that there are actually a lot of patients that need you.”
Benavides said in addition to seeing an average of 25 patients a day, being on her feet all the time was another aspect of the job she wasn’t aware of. She said it will take some getting used to, but she is ready for the challenge.
“I am not used to that quite yet, but it is getting easier and easier as the days go on,” Benavides said. “I just have to always be ready.”
Benavides said she would highly recommend that other students, especially those interested in a career in the medical field, participate in the Doctors Academy program or to job shadow a profession in whatever career they are interested in because the experience is invaluable.
“It helps you later on so you know how the medical field works a little bit and it lets you know if you are really interested in it,” Benavides said. “This helped me a lot because now I know that I am for sure interested in the medical field and I know that if I didn’t take this opportunity I would regret it later on. It has been a really good experience.”
Basraon, who will also be a senior in August, said he joined the Doctors Academy program because he was interested in job shadowing pediatricians so he can have a better idea of what goes on behind closed doors.
“It is really fun to be around kids more than adults, so I wanted to look into this field because I found it really interesting,” Basraon said.
Basraon, who is thinking about attending UCLA or Fresno State when he graduates, said his experience job shadowing pediatricians has made him feel more prepared going into the field.
“It is a really good opportunity if you can do it because you get an insight to what it is like to be in the office every day and how it feels to see the patients and see if this is something that you want to do,” Basraon said.
Basraon said he has learned a lot in the three weeks he has been job shadowing at Kaiser Permanente’s Clovis Medical Offices, but the one thing that really stood out to him is how the pediatricians communicate with patients and their legal guardians.
“Sometimes you get teenagers and sometimes you get babies and I see the different ways that they handle different patients and I learned a lot from that,” Basraon said.
Communicating is one thing Basraon said he needs to work on because as he puts it, “it is really important to have good communication skills in this field, especially with the parents and the children and how to communicate with them differently.”
Pediatrician Norma Figueroa said she enjoys having students shadow her while she works because they often have a fresh perspective and it is fun for her to see them excited about learning.
Figueroa, who discovered her passion for pediatrics while in medical school, said her favorite thing about her job is making relationships with families and watching children grow and thrive and become young adults.
“Teaching kids very early on good habits and making sure they become helpful individuals is what drew me to this,” Figueroa said. “I was trying to help them get better and be productive.”
Figueroa said being compassionate, empathetic and a good listener is critical to the field as these traits have often helped her understand what problems a patient might be suffering from.
“It can be very challenging because a lot of times they are not able to tell you what’s wrong and so you really need to have clinical skills to be able to figure things out,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa said the Doctors Academy is a great program and she is looking forward to helping more students learn about pediatrics.
“I think if you know that this is what you want to do then pursue it,” Figueroa said. “We need more pediatricians and general practitioners and so having students be interested in this is awesome.”