With a dearth of doctors and an influx of new patients resulting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, local experts in the medical field are coming together to talk to high school and college students interested in meeting that need by taking up careers in medicine.
Those doctors are part of a lecture series called “Doctor in the House” at UC Santa Barbara, and they’re donating their time to talk to students interested in health careers about how they got their start, paid for their educations and navigated from college to specialties. Two more lectures are upcoming this month.
One of the doctors spearheading the effort is Dr. Edwin Feliciano, who works as UCSB’s behavioral health director for student health.
Feliciano said the idea started as a casual one, with local physicians.
“Some of us started talking about how it would have been so helpful if someone had explained the ins and outs of going into the field when we were in college,” he told Noozhawk.
About a year ago, Feliciano began talking with his friend, Dr. Ben Taylor, a cardiothoracic surgeon, about the lack of doctors and health-care reform.
“One of the slowest parts of that is getting students into medical school,” he said.
Without a local medical school to capture students who are interested in the health-care field, he said Taylor “wanted to start somewhere and suggested the lecture series.”
“After speaking with several physicians in the community, I realized there was a great deal of interest in giving back to the community in the form of educating college students and creating interest in the medical profession,” Feliciano said.
He mentioned the idea to Claudine Mitchel, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, and the idea took off.
The lecture series has already seen two speakers, and “it’s been incredibly interesting,” Feliciano said. “These students considering health careers have wonderful questions.”
Doctors are asked about the high cost of medical school and how they made it work for them, as well as the pressure of their careers.
Feliciano said he was surprised to discover that about 15 pre-health organizations exist on UCSB’s campus. About 100 students have showed up for each talk so far.
The opening lecture, on Jan. 13, featured Dr. Dave Thoman, a bariatric surgeon who described his personal experience in deciding to attend medical school and specializing in surgery.
Feliciano said Thoman recounted for students how he joined the Navy to help pay for medical school, and ended up in the middle of the ocean on an aircraft carrier, conducting surgeries.
Dr. Miguel Pedroza, a family practitioner, spoke on Jan. 27.
A guest speaks for about an hour, talking about his or her journey in the medical field, then takes questions from the audience.
“All these people are doing this on a volunteer basis,” Feliciano said,
The lectures are from 7 to 8:30 p.m. every other Monday at Broida Hall, Room 1610.
Local students not enrolled at UCSB but interested in health fields are invited to attend, and Feliciano said even high school students interested in the field are welcome.