School of Medicine program gives local elementary students window into higher ed

On April 14, first-year students attending Georgetown University School of Medicine hosted fourth grade students from Garfield Elementary and spent the day guiding them through campus tours, teaching them important health and wellness information, and motivating them to follow their dreams. 

The visit came at the end of the medical students’ community-based learning (CBL) course, a required part of their preclinical education designed to equip them with the knowledge and skills to advance health priorities in underresourced communities. CBL students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom at one of 24 Washington, DC-based sites serving vulnerable populations, including children, older people, residents living with disabilities, and people in supportive housing.

This year, 20 first-year students choose Garfield Elementary, a local Title 1 school in Southeast DC, for their site, making it one the most popular destinations for the CBL course.

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“Garfield is a strong partner with enthusiastic students who choose to be a part of the mini med school program there, so it’s hard to not feel the consistent excitement about their team,” said Margaret Eshleman, education coordinator for Georgetown’s CBL course and the medical school’s Population Health Scholar Track.

Helping students to see themselves in medicine, higher ed

The fourth graders, dressed in their own white coats, began their campus visit at the W. Proctor Harvey Amphitheater in the Medical-Dental Building with a welcome by Lee Jones, M.D., Georgetown’s dean for medical education.

“Medicine is growing all the time, and we always need help with how to get better,” he told the visitors. “So one of the reasons I’m so excited to be here to talk with you is we need you in medicine. We need people with new ideas, we need people with ideas about how to make things better from what they’ve been experiencing.”

For the medical students, the visit was an opportunity to ensure kids feel invested in fostering a healthier, more secure future for their communities.

“My goal was to inspire and motivate the students of Garfield Elementary School to believe that they too, irrespective of their backgrounds, have a place in medicine, higher education, and beyond,” said Perry Diaz (M’26).

Throughout the day, medical students organized medical trivia games, taught kids how to perform the Heimlich maneuver in the simulation lab, and answered their questions about the functions of different organ systems. When the fourth graders finished playing games and learning to save lives, they put together plastic stethoscopes and talked with the medical students.

“What was your favorite part of the day?” Diaz asked.

“Everything,” a fourth grader replied.

Read more about School of Medicine’s Community-Based Learning in this news story.

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