August 7, 2019

CampNeuro Helps High School Students Explore Brain Science

By Amy Widner

This is the fourth year that UAMS has hosted CampNeuro, which is administered by a national organization but planned, organized and taught by students and faculty at the host sites. The student organizers are headed into their second year in the College of Medicine in the fall.

Student Board of Directors Chair Morgan Sweere said running the camp was a good way to reinforce what the students had learned during their first year of medical school. Working alongside their professors, she said they observed how to teach medical concepts in a way that younger students could understand — a useful skill for any future physician, whether they intend to go into academic medicine or simply want to communicate effectively with patients.

That said, Sweere said the students were an enthusiastic group who not only grasped the concepts but stayed engaged and asked great questions. Most of the students were from central Arkansas, although one participant was from out of state. Some wanted to become doctors, but most were interested in clinical psychology or researching drug abuse. The program is designed for students with any STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) interest, not just future doctors.

“Encouraging people to go into STEM fields is important, whether it be a graduate program or medicine or another health care field,” Sweere said. “For students their age, I think it’s really important to show them where they can go with that kind of training. It can go in a lot of different directions, so we tried to expose them to a variety of career paths, and most of the people they interacted with also told them what training it took to get to their position.”

Sweere said the students tried to use the many resources available at UAMS, not only to keep things engaging for the students, but to make them more aware of everything the institution has to offer.

For example, the students performed a sheep brain dissection and suturing lesson in the anatomy lab. They used the UAMS Simulation Center to learn about stroke, lumbar punctures and intubation. They also used the Center for Clinical Skills to take a patient history, perform a physical and do a detailed neurological exam. They played games and did a mock team-based learning event. They used the anatomy lab’s Sectra virtual dissection device, which is a touchscreen technology the size of a table through which students can explore anatomy in 3D.

There were also lectures on everything from traumatic brain injury to psychiatric disorders, drug abuse and neuroimaging. The speakers included:

  • Rudy L. Van Hemert Jr., M.D., neuroradiology
  • Charles Matthew Quick, M.D., pathology
  • Aliza Brown, Ph.D., radiology
  • Kevin Phelan, Ph.D., neurobiology and developmental sciences/li>
  • Lauren Russel, Ph.D., candidate
  • Rani Lindberg, M.D., physical medicine and rehabilitation
  • Purushottam Thapa, M.D., psychiatry
  • John Spollen, M.D., psychiatry
  • Wendy Ward, Ph.D., clinical psychology
  • Jerrilyn Jones, M.D., emergency medicine

The other student co-directors were Hayden Scott, Kristina Kennedy, Ushna Ilyas and William McEver. Additional students from their class helped on an as-needed basis.

“All of the faculty at UAMS were super willing to help, and we were grateful for that,” Sweere said.
Sweere said they were able to work closely with the high school students, getting to know them and giving them advice on their next steps for education after high school. Scott agreed.

“All of the kids who participated in the program were super excited,” Scott said. “You could tell they were very knowledgeable. Being so young, it was kind of inspiring. It was pretty cool to see the level these students were at academically. The opportunities available for young students interested in STEM are truly amazing, and having the chance to help lead a program like this was an awesome experience.”