Cascia’s Minimester Provides Real World Experience to Students

It’s 6 a.m., which means it is time for Kadriye to scrub in for surgery. She puts on her hair cap, cleans and sanitizes her hands, and watches a new life come into this world in the Gynecology and Obstetrics Unit. Next she meets with patients, listens to their concerns and takes note of them. Then she has to rush back to school to be on time for her AP English class.

Kadirye Hargett, along with Umang Patel and Brianna Zanders, is doing an internship at St. John’s Hospital as a part of Cascia Hall’s yearly “minimester,” an interim term for Upper School students during the month of January. In keeping with the school’s Augustinian mission of educating the whole person, the program has been a fixture of the Upper School for more than four decades. This is in an effort to explore the student body’s extremely varied interests, in regard to both their future careers and their community involvement. The students take a break from all of their non-AP classes and focus on classes with unique topics such as History of Board Games or Hitchcock Film Studies. Additionally, once a week the freshman take a field trip to a historical and significant area in Oklahoma, while sophomores go off campus to perform community service at Catholic Charities, Tulsa Community Food Bank, and many other non-profits.

As for the juniors and seniors, they select a career field that they are considering and work there for a few weeks. They are placed all over Tulsa, and even beyond with study abroad projects and out-of-state opportunities.

“There was one girl who went to New York for a month, did her classes online, all for an internship,” Patel, a junior student, said. Patel is currently working in the St. John’s Emergency Room shadowing two physicians, while Zanders is shadowing one in the cardiothoracic surgical unit.

“I basically just observe surgeries all day,” Zanders said. “It’s really interesting.”

Because the students are working so closely with doctors, they are experiencing real-life situations that require sufficient medical training. “You have to be trained (before observing surgery) on how to scrub in, HIPPA, operating room protocols and stuff like that,” Hargett explained.

It is a real commitment, and the students have to work with the doctors and their schedules to learn as much as possible in one month. “We have to get 30 hours of hospital time, in addition to our AP classes,” Patel said.

Though it can be stressful, they all agree it is worth it because of the valuable experience they are gaining.

During Cascia’s minimester, the young people are up close and personal to the procedures they are observing, which can sometimes be difficult for them. “We deal with a lot of patients who are really, really sick. And I’ve been in there when they thought they were going to lose people, which is really hard,” Zanders explained. “But it’s part of the job, and it’s good to see that part of it and realize it’s not all going to be easy.”

This kind of real-world experience is what the program encourages, an honest look at a profession, including both the highs and the lows.

Kadriye remembers her best day as a personal experience with a patient who finally realized after months of worry that her twins were going to be born happy and healthy. “She thought she was going to have to have immediate surgery on her babies in Houston,” Kadriye said, “but she ended up getting to have them here and seeing how excited and relieved she was made my day and the whole experience.”

These hands-on internships have reinforced the students’ decisions to pursue medical degrees after high school. They know it is a long road with lots of schooling, but being exposed to it only reminds them of why they want to be doctors.

Hargett explains, “I really like minimester because I knew I had an interest in medicine, but it was a possibility among many, but after spending two years shadowing, I know I want to do it!”

Categories: Education: Middle and High School