Future Medical Leaders is an honors-only program for high-school students who want to become physicians or go into medical research fields.
“The purpose of this event is to honor, inspire, motivate, and direct the top students in the country who aspire to be physicians or medical scientists, to stay true to their dream, and, after the event, to provide a path, plan, and resources to help them reach their goal,” said a Congress spokesman.
Sagna feels this opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and is looking to soak up as much knowledge as possible.
“I'll learn a lot of things; the new technologies they use right now in the medical field,” she said. “I’ll be learning about surgery.”
“I’ll know a lot in advance,” Sagna said. “I’ll know what I can do to get ahead and things like that.”
She has been ecstatic about the program since finding out she was accepted last summer.
“I’m very excited,” Sagna said. “I’ve been talking about it for a very long time. I know that it’s a very exclusive type of thing and you have to get nominated to get in.”
That actually happened at her previous school, Holy Family Academy, as a freshman last year, when she had taken an educational survey and indicated her interest in medicine.
“I put down that I wanted to be a doctor and that I wanted to take medical courses in college,” she said.
One of her teachers thought highly enough of Sagna to submit her name for nomination to the program.
Then Holy Family closed its doors for good in June, and Sagna wound up at Marist, and in the school’s Medquest program.
Wearing the whites
Though very early in her medical studies, and years away from her undergraduate or medical degrees, she already has chosen a specialty.
“I want to be an anesthesiologist,” she said. “Ever since I was a kid, it’s been my dream. My uncle's one too. It’s just something I always wanted to do.”
Her other uncle's a pharmacist, and mom and dad have both been nurse’s aides, so it’s no surprise that Sagna will wind up wearing a white lab coat too.
Sagna is thankful that the Medquest program is available at Marist, giving her the opportunity to learn healthcare basics.
“It’s for people who want to do things in the medical field,” she said. “We learn medical terms. We learn how to do injections. We learned how to wrap arms; put a person’s arm in a sling. We learned how to take blood pressure, a person's pulse, respiration.”
One half year through the four-year program, she is already looking forward to her junior and senior years, where she will receive real-life clinical experience. That happens after volunteer work in a hospital somewhere this summer.
Pre-med and med schools
Always thinking ahead, Sagna is considering Seton Hall University in South Orange for her undergraduate degree, and then is eyeing two of the country’s best universities to pursue her medical degree.
“My dream school would be to go to Johns Hopkins,” she said. “There’s also Georgetown.”
But first there’s the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, and one thing she really thinks is “cool”: taking part in a live procedure.
“In the Congress, we’ll be able to be a part of a surgery, and talk to the surgeon while he’s doing the surgery. It’s like we’ll be doing the real thing. I’m excited about that.”
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.