ALBANY COUNTY: Students sample working world

It's basically a crash course in medicine, and over the past two days, beginning Tuesday, Dec. 12, the students have been learning the ropes of in vitro fertilization.

"This is the first experience with high school students," said Gwen Testo, clinical manager at Albany IVF. Previously the staff at IVF had worked with college students enrolled in medical programs.

These high school students are asking the right questions and have no problem grasping the basic science behind fertility treatments, Testo said.

The program is good, Testo said, because it can give them the opportunity to get behind the scenes of various medical professions.

"The more exposure they get, the better they will be able to make a decision about their future careers," she said.

The workload is intense, said Dunnigan and Lupe. At the end of their shadowing at Albany IVF, they are expected to write a 10-page paper. That doesn't include the reading and in-house tests at the facility. To make it fun, Testo has prepared a "Jeopardy!"-style reproduction exam.

The students arrive at Ellis Hospital three days a week, where they shadow staff in three rotations, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. They attend honors courses at the vo-tech school to fulfill the rest of the program requirements.

Many of the students have already met state Regents and high school graduation requirements. The courses they take through New Vision earn them college credits through Russell Sage.

Writing 30 pages a week on their weekly adventures in education isn't uncommon, said Dunnigan. But at least they are about topics and a field of study they are interested in, even if semen density gradient washing may not exactly be their bag.

"I knew I wanted to be a doctor or a pharmacist in the medical field," said Dunnigan. "By doing this, we get to see what the medical field is all about, and it sets you apart."

Albany IVF is one of 30 rotations New Vision students will participate in this year. Their other rotations deal with radiology, neurology, emergency room, pharmacy and administrative work.""

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