BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston students had the opportunity to participate in a "Careers in Medicine" program launched by the Summit Medical Group Foundation (SMGF) on Friday, March 28.

Sixty students in grades 9 through 12 with an interest in the medical field attended the program. They spent the day at Summit Medical Group (SMG) and met various doctors from the group who practice in a wide variety of medicine.  

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The program was successfully executed and was better than envisioned said Rebecca Levy, General Council for SMG. Levy, along with Lisa Hackett Executive Direcotr of SMGF developed the program. The environment was meant to be relaxing and fun for the students to feel open to ask their questions. Levy was excited by the thoughtful questions asked by the students.  

Levy answered questions regarding medical career options that do not require going to medical school. She described her position as General Council for Summit Medical Group. Other career options include -- nursing, pharmacy, research and administration, to name a few.

"This was a great program and the kids were very excited, especially with the hands on activities.  With a small group like this, they are getting their questions answered.  All of the specialists were great with the kids," said Jim Rutzler, Gov. Livingston teacher. 

The students dressed in scrubs and participated in hands on medical and health care activities -- "Learn to Suture" using bananas; a student volunteered to have a cast applied; an echocardiogram was performed; and "Injection Simulations" using oranges. 

The hands-on activities left the students realizing the difficulty in the procedures that doctors routinely perform. 

"Wearing the scrubs completed the experience,"  said a freshman participant.

"Interesting and surprising to me, I know that certain fields of medicine are male dominated and we had 45 females interested in coming today. That was very exciting for me to see," said Susan Rembetsy, Gov. Livingston Science Supervisor.

"This has got me excited about the journey and adventure of going into the medical field," said a student. 

Dr. Marnie Cambria assured the students that you can have it all being in the medical field.  "I feel like women are deterred from entering the medical field because they are worried of what their future is going to look like.  You have to prioritize that your medical education and medical career comes first," said Cambria.

"I have the best work-life balance by working three days a week," said Cambria. "Don't be deterred in thinking you can't have it all.  I am evidence that you really truly can have it all. You can have a work-life balance. You just have to strike a balance of what is important."

Dr. Gary Pien of Berkeley Heights eased the minds of the students about entering the path of medicine.  After medical school, he had options and chose a pediatric residency. He told students that he also loved research and decided to further his education with a fellowship in the specialty of allergy and immunology.  

"Going to med school, I thought you needed to know what you want to do and what you want to be," said Arthur Plaszczymaka, a junior at Gov. Livingston. "But Dr. Pien went into med school not knowing what he wanted to do. He came out of med school and he could be a doctor and do research." 

"At the end of day, I am not here to convince you to be doctors. It would be great if you do, we can all work together," said Pien.  "But at the end of the day, I want you to walk out of here and find what excites you.  What is it that you think you can build your life around?  Whether you want to be the next Walt Disney ---  or do you want to be the next Steve Jobs? These individuals realized that curiosity was a big  part of their life," said Pien. 

"I liked hearing about the doctors' stories and their experiences.  That was giving us motivation,"   said Natalie Petryk. 

Students that hope to attend medical school received a glimpse of the variety of medical careers. " I have been thinking of the medical field and it was so inspiring. Every time someone spoke, I changed my mind on what I want to be," said Meryl Schaffer. 

Julianne Kingsley, a senior at Gov. Livingston and a member of the Berkeley Heights Youth Rescue Squad was already sold on a medical career.  She will be attending Pittsburgh's nursing program in the fall.   "I want to be a neo-natal nurse practitioner.  I have to go to nursing school first and then extra school," said Kingsley.  

Plaszczymaka, also, a member of the Youth Rescue Squad, has always had an interest in science. "I am getting a more hands on experience through the rescue squad.  I am looking at being an anesthesiologist, so the rescue squad has helped me a lot.," said Plaszcymaka.  After listening to the doctors, he is open to exploring his options and possibly a career in the operating room. 

Summit Medical Group Foundation is scheduling the "Careers in Medicine" program for high school students as the first stage of the Young Adult Programming.  The second stage will include a doctor shadowing program and the third stage is to provide scholarships to students entering the medical field.  Visit their website to learn more about the Summit Medical Group Foundation.