Directed by Palisadian Dr. Bob Hamilton, the Eve and Gene Black Summer Medical Career Program Featured Talk from Dr. Mike Martini
By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
The Los Angeles Pediatric Society wrapped its summer medical career program on Thursday, July 30, which is a medical mentor program for high school-aged students interested in pursuing and practicing pediatrics.
The society is one of the oldest free-standing pediatric societies in the United States. In 1969, the group began a program to cultivate interest in pediatrics among high school students and has since had hundreds of mentors, many of whom have remained in the program throughout the years.
In a typical year, students would have the opportunity to spend two to four weeks during the month of July in a hospital or office setting, meeting with a pediatrician and seeing how they interact with patients.
This year, hospitals closed their volunteer offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the program had to shift gears and adjust its operations, presenting the first-ever Pediatric Society Online Summer Program.
“There was some discussion of whether or not we could have a program at all this summer,” Palisades-grown Dr. Patrick Whelan explained. “I persuaded the rest of the board that we should move the whole thing online and enlist all of our mentors to be presenters during the course of the month.”
Whelan, past-president of the Los Angeles Pediatric Society, shared the program’s success this year, despite its challenges. Students completed four weeks of sessions, and Whelan reported excellent attendance.
“We worried that everybody would be burned out after being online for their whole spring semester for all these kids in high school,” Whelan shared, “but I couldn’t believe the level of enthusiasm.”
Students met every morning from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., four days per week, and the program had a total of 48 presenters who shared their expertise in areas like breastfeeding, child-life, psychiatry, surgery and end-of-life care.
Whelan said between 250 to 300 students apply every year and only 65 are chosen to participate.
“It’s enormously gratifying for those of us in academia, pediatrics is such a high calling, it’s hard to find people who are willing to deploy themselves in medicine in this way,” Whelan said. “Our goal is that we want really good, idealistic, generous people going into medicine who have a predisposition for care for children.”
The program boasts strong ties to the Palisades: The director is Palisadian Dr. Bob Hamilton, and Dr. Mike Martini, who practiced pediatrics in the Palisades, was one of the 48 presenters this year.
Martini shared with students how much pediatrics has changed in the last 65 years and about his experience being a pediatrician from 1954 to the early 2000s.
“I became active in the community and at the local YMCA … and I gave lectures to 11 year olds about puberty,” Martini shared with participants via Zoom. “I would also give a program at six elementary schools in the area on the dangers of drug use.
“Through the years, I saw patients with rattlesnake bites, patients with leukemia, brain abscess … now a 50- or 60-year-old comes up to me and says, ‘Hi Dr. Martini, I was a patient of yours.’”
Last year the program celebrated 50 years at Dodger Stadium. This year, on Monday, July 27, the program received a personal address from Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“For more than half a century, the Eve and Gene Black Summer Medical Career Program has put young Angelenos on a path to a life of service,” Garcetti said to program participants. “This year, like so much in our lives, the program looks a little different, but as you set out on your journeys … one thing remains the same: we need you.
“On behalf of the City of Angels, thank you for choosing to provide help and to give hope and to make life better for all of us.”
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