Mentorship program helps students explore medical careers


WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. – Becoming a doctor requires years of hard work and sacrifice, and a very special program is allowing local students to explore a career in medicine, while they're still in high school.

The Medical Mentorship program is a collaboration between West Bloomfield High School and Henry Ford Health System.

Students who are accepted into the program shadow Henry Ford mentors in primary care, specialty care, laboratory, pathology, pharmacy, administration or complementary medicine.

Bhavika Chepuri was a student in the Medical Mentorship program in 2008.

"I worked with a radiation oncologist when I was in the program, and he was an incredible mentor who really ignited the spark that carried me through all of these years," said Chepuri.

Now 5 years later, Chepuri is a first year medical student at Wayne State University.

West Bloomfield High School senior Iris Song is a current student in the program.  She said she has already gained an important perspective on medicine.

"It's not really as dramatic as TV makes it out to be, but it's definitely I would say as interesting," said Song.  "You see real-life situations of real people getting diagnosed and treated."

Chris Sturgill is a teacher at West Bloomfield High School and directs the Medical Mentorship program.

"We've had over 500 students in the 13 years that this program has gone on," said Sturgill.  "I think we have a really high grade of success with these students moving on to going into a medical career and some of them choose not to, and that's okay too."

Dr. Kenneth Levin is a radiation oncologist at Henry Ford Hospital and has mentored high school students in the program for years.

"They see nothing's perfect," said Levin.  "They see the good with the bad, they see some of the stresses and some of the successes.  They see it from all sides."

The program is such a success, it's been used as the model for similar programs around the state.

And whether students ultimately pursue a career in medicine or not, they're grateful for the opportunity.

"I saw both the gratifying and the rewarding, but I also saw the difficult and the challenging," said Chepuri.  "When it came time to make a career choice, I had a really complete picture."