Valley teens shadow Doctors for the day

FRESNO, Calif.

Wednesday, Action News followed one future doctor as she got her first glimpse at a career in pediatrics.

Pediatrician Lorraine Lopez is today both a doctor and a teacher. Her student is not a medical resident or an intern, but 15-year-old Selma High School Student Araceli Garcia Muñoz. "It was exciting you get to see what she does. She asks how are you doing today or what's wrong, why are you here for the day."

This very early firsthand experience is one component of the Doctor's Academy, a program at Sunnyside, Selma and Caruthers High Schools for students interested in careers in the health profession.

Dr. Lopez said, "They follow me around and are able to come in and see patients with me and at this point in their life see if that is something they want to do later on."

Sophomores in the Doctor's Academy program spend half a day in February watching and learning from medical professionals in their chosen specialty.

Araceli feels fortunate to be getting this type of experience at such a young age. "Nobody is used to seeing blood or seeing someone get a shot, but I think that is why job shadowing is such a good experience because you get to see it and get used to it."

Dr. Lopez encourages students to ask questions and interact with patients, she hopes that one day when they become doctors, they'll follow in her foot steps and practice in the valley.

"We do need doctors--everywhere doctors are needed." Dr. Lopez said. "There is many opportunities for people in the medical field, where in other jobs there may not be. I grew up here and I feel that it's very important to give back."

For Araceli, this opportunity to see what a typical day is like for a doctor, including the needles and crying babies, did not discourage her, but further reinforced her decision to become a physician. "She enjoys doing what she does and I can see myself like that. I can see myself being a doctor and getting to see patients and enjoying what I do."

Aside from job-shadowing, Dr. Lopez at Kaiser Permanente in Selma, Doctor's Academy students will be following physicians, nurses and veterinarians all month at medical facilities in Fresno and Madera County.

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