Course Catalog: Emergency Medicine Internship/Biology 480

A new feature profiling unique UAB course experiences

fall2011_erThe Emergency Medicine Internship aims to give undergraduates the chance to learn what an ER doc’s life is really like. The class will be offered again in spring 2012; students pursuing any major can apply.

When your classroom is the size of a football field, and far more bloody, you learn to think fast. This spring, 10 top undergraduate students majoring in biology, chemistry, and physics shadowed doctors, nurses, and other staff in the vast UAB Emergency Department as part of an experimental course offering.

Each student had several opportunities to shadow medical personnel as well as clinical researchers working on emergency medicine studies. The students also worked with faculty mentors on collaborative research topics and discussed the latest advances in emergency medicine research in weekly Journal Club sessions.

“We wanted to give undergraduate students the chance to learn about medicine before they got into it—and before they got in debt,” says course director Marquita Hicks, M.D., assistant professor in the UAB Department of Emergency Medicine. “At the same time, it allowed our faculty to mentor the undergraduates and gave us some help with our research endeavors.”

Many of the participating students intend to go on to medical school, Hicks says; others have their sights set on careers as physician assistants or nurse practitioners. “I had the opportunity to read about hypothermia research, and a few days later, I saw that research in action,” says Bomi Edwards, who graduated in May and is currently preparing to apply to medical schools.

Jelaina Scott, a senior biomedical engineering major planning on a career in medicine, had already shadowed Hicks before the class began. But the opportunity to combine further shadowing with hands-on research experience—and to build relationships with several practicing physicians—was too good to pass up. “Applying to this program was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” she says.

— By Matt Windsor