Thirty-one pre-med students on the Homewood campus are
getting a glimpse into their future this month, thanks to
two noncredit clinical programs offered during intersession
by the Office of Preprofessional Advising and doctors at
Johns Hopkins and Union Memorial hospitals.
Both the three-week Tutorial program and the weeklong
Master Clinician program allow undergraduates to interact
with physicians, nurses and laboratory technicians
volunteering their time to help the next generation of
doctors learn more about their chosen profession. The
students shadow doctors on rounds, watch operations and
observe the doctor-patient relationship in action.
"It lets the students explore what medicine is all
about," said the creator of the Tutorial program, William
Baumgartner, Vincent L. Gott Professor of Surgery in the
School of Medicine and cardiac surgeon in charge at The
Johns Hopkins Hospital. "This is an eye-opener as to what
is involved and the rewards of being in medicine. And it's
lots of fun. The students are very excited and
The Tutorial program focuses on three specialty areas
of medicine, while the Master Clinician program aims to
show young doctors-to-be the importance of fostering good
The 16 students participating in this year's Tutorial
program are devoting their time to anesthesia, cardiac
surgery or general surgery, all at Johns Hopkins. The 15
students in the Master Clinician program were matched with
eight physicians in different specialties at both Johns
Hopkins and Union Memorial, spending half a day with each
to observe the way doctors interact with their patients.
The Master Clinician week concludes with a discussion back
at Homewood led by associate professor Richard Heitmiller,
formerly at Johns Hopkins and now chief of surgery at Union
Memorial Hospital, who emphasizes that the doctor-patient
relationship is the basic building block for medicine, no
matter what field a physician pursues.
"You're going to be dealing with people from wildly
different backgrounds," Heitmiller told a group of students
who met with him Jan. 14. "You need to have an idea of
where they are coming from to connect with them and get
your message across."
The programs were created a few years ago when
Baumgartner approached Ronald Fishbein, assistant dean for
pre-professional programs (and associate professor emeritus
of surgery), with a desire to increase students' awareness
of surgery as a specialty and cardiac surgery as a
subspecialty. The conversation between colleagues led to a
talk on the Homewood campus by Baumgartner and other
surgeons, which was attended by 40 or 50 students,
Baumgartner said. The success of that event led the doctors
to build curriculum specifically for the cardio thoracic
intersession tutorial. To expand the program, the Office of
Preprofessional Advising turned to Jean Kan, professor
emeritus of pediatrics and premedical adviser, who created
the curriculum for general surgery and anesthesia
turtorials. Kan also encourages doctors to participate in
the programs each year and then coordinates the complex
schedule that keeps everyone on track.
"It takes a lot to set this all up, but it's so worth
it," Kan said. "We want these students to be doctors who
get up every day and say, 'Man, this is great — pinch
The program evolves and grows each year, with doctors,
nurses and other hospital employees contributing.
"The reason the program is successful is that
everybody embraces these kids," Baumgartner said. "They are
open to them and really look out for them."
Students, too, are embracing the program, with up to
84 applications received for each section of the program.
For many students, organizers said, the intersession
experience can be life defining.
"The most valuable thing I learned is that a doctor is
a person and a patient is a person, and the fact that we
are all people requires that we respect each other," said
Zirui Song, a junior majoring in public health studies.
Song picked up on a message emphasized by both
Heitmiller and Baumgartner.
"There is a lot happening in the world of medicine
today," Baumgartner said. "But what hasn't changed is that
caring for patients is a real honor."