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Students play role of medical detectives

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Beaty-Warren Middle School Medical Detectives student (left) Jahzara Hunter records information as classmate Faith Sherwood takes the pulse of patient Heather Stover on Thursday at the Medical Detectives Walk-In Clinic.

A group of young Warren County medical professionals took turns evaluating patients at a new walk-in clinic on Thursday.

Students in the Beaty-Warren Middle School Medical Detectives class had to try to determine what was wrong with adult volunteers who came into the classroom clinic complaining of a variety of maladies.

According to the course description, in the nine-week “Medical Detectives unit, students play the role of real-life medical detectives as they collect and analyze medical data to diagnose disease. They solve medical mysteries through hands-on projects and labs, measure and interpret vital signs…”

“The course starts the students out as registered nurses, learning the basics of collecting and evaluating vital signs,” teacher Jenny Watt said. “After the students are ‘Vital Sign Certified’ they receive additional training on disease diagnosis which allows them to open their own mock walk-in clinic.”

“They had to design their own partitions and include the relevant information that we have been studying,” Watt said. “Soon they will study the nervous system and begin diagnosing brain injuries. Eventually they dissect a sheep brain and finally the course ends with them becoming epidemiologists as they track and defeat a disease outbreak.”

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Beaty-Warren Middle School Medical Detectives student Dominick Holmberg takes the blood pressure of patient and Assistant Principal Shelly Wagner on Thursday at the Medical Detectives Walk-In Clinic.

The students took real vital readings and reported back to the patients about how healthy their numbers were. They were then provided pre-fabricated information about the fictional patient and the fictional symptoms.

The patients were given instruction — scripts — for how to answer the student-doctors’ questions.

Comparing the answers to the symptoms in their lists of possible diagnoses, the students had to evaluate patients.

Three members of the staff at the clinic — Leyna Irwin, Ryleigh Bowers, and Jacob Carroll — evaluated a 33-year-old reporter named Elliot. He presented with headaches, joint pain, and facial drooping.

He was very concerned.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Beaty-Warren Middle School Medical Detectives student Lucy Harrison adjusts a blood pressure cuff on patient Sue Baldensperger on Thursday at the Medical Detectives Walk-In Clinic.

The students were professional, polite and understanding. They asked him a number of questions.

They took his temperature, his pulse, and his blood pressure. All seemed pretty normal, though he did have a bit of a fever.

Asked if he had any allergies or had eaten anything unusual recently, he told them he had been on a hike and drunk some water out of a stream. Afterwards, he felt quite unwell for a couple days, but that was a month ago.

The headache had been ongoing for about that long. Elliot figured it was job stress.

They thanked him for visiting and sent him home. He is hoping to hear some results soon.

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