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UC Davis Health System

UC Davis Health System

UC Davis emergency medicine residents lead high school suture lab

Dr. Sokolove and student
Emergency medicine physician Peter Sokolove (right) shares suturing techniques with Health Professions High School student Francisco Gastelum.

Posted May 23, 2012

Pigs' feet, suture kits and UC Davis emergency medicine residents were awaiting ninth graders at Health Professions High School recently.

The day's lesson? A hands-on lab teaching students in the Medical Science 9 class how to suture.

In 2006, Peter Sokolove, professor and vice chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Emergency Medicine, launched this community outreach project, giving his emergency medicine residents the chance to teach the next generation of aspiring health-care workers. He continues to oversee the project, which has been offered to ninth graders each year.

"This is one of the labs that the students are most interested in and where they are most focused," said Jennifer Clemens, Medical Science 9 teacher at Health Professions High School. "It's all real stuff. They're using real suture materials and real [pig] skin and they're being trained by real doctors. That's part of the key."

UC Davis emergency medicine resident Aaron Hougham presented a short primer on the basics of suturing, before students had the chance to break into small groups and try their hand at suturing a deep laceration on a pig's foot.

"A diverse workforce improves access to care, enhances patient satisfaction and provides culturally competent care, which is what we're all striving for."
— Peter Sokolove

"It's a lot harder than it looks," said Yaritca Benitez, who wants to become a pathologist.

For Sokolove, he keeps bringing the suture lab to the school each year in the hopes of providing students with a real-world glimpse into a future in medicine. He hopes that these will be his future colleagues in the emergency department.

"There is a real need for us to improve the diversity of our emergency department personnel to better reflect the diversity that exists in our community," said Sokolove. "A diverse workforce improves access to care, enhances patient satisfaction and provides culturally competent care, which is what we're all striving for."

Health Professions High School's mission is to provide students with an outstanding education, rich with relevant academic, application and leadership experiences — using healthcare as a theme. The school currently has 450 ninth through twelfth graders.

To learn more about UC Davis School of Medicine's K-12 Outreach Programs, call Felicia Miller at 916-734-4084.