New Medical Education Program Leads Teens to Positive Social Choices

Photo credit: Azri Samin

By Lisa Samin

Teen violence, drinking, and drunk driving are on the rise in Israel, as in many western countries. Despite numerous public service campaigns against these negative behaviors, teens continue to drink excessively, drive under the influence and engage in violent behavior.

This is even more prevalent in distressed areas and among teens from marginalized communities.

The Technoda Science and Technology Education Center in the underserved Hadera neighborhood of Givat Olga has developed an innovative program at its state-of-the-art Medical Simulation Unit (MSU) to encourage teens to make positive social choices.

“Health in Your Hands” introduces teens from difficult neighborhoods to medical education. It gives them the opportunity to engage in actual medical simulations which demonstrate the physical and behavioral effects of risky social behaviors – alcohol, drugs, violence and drunk driving. At the same time, the program exposes these teens to the exciting world of medical science.

The approach of this program is science-based and presents the teens with scientific facts, real data and immersive experiences which relate to their daily lives. Throughout the simulations the students serve as the medical and surgical teams, the first responders and the on-site accident investigators. This engages participants in a new and responsible way and provides them with a completely different perspective on negative behaviors.

Participants rush to a scene of a car accident, depicted through staged scenery, and role play as the first responders in an actual intensive care mobile unit. The patient is then taken to a replicated hospital operating theater that includes a “human patient simulator” (HPS) – a life-like, anatomically correct, computer driven mannequin with physiologic responses that mimic real patients, produced by the Laerdal Company.

Students acting as doctors and nurses are able to pump blood through IV tubes and administer therapeutic interventions. There is a defibrillator that can deliver a shock to revive the “patient’s” heart. The “surgical team” is able to view the patient monitor to see the response to treatment.

The students work with an actual CT machine, donated by Phillips, which shows the effect of alcohol on the human brain. There are also models which identity various parts of the brain that are damaged when exposed to certain chemicals and “drunk glasses” which show how visual perception becomes warped from drinking.

Using the HPS, the students are able to see the direct results of a stabbing incident, all too prevalent at bars and certain neighborhood parks, and give simulated care to someone who is stabbed in the chest.

Some 20 tenth-grade classes have participated in individual medical simulation workshops. Technoda now aims to pilot Health in Your Hands as a three-session educational program for 2500 tenth graders from 70 under resourced schools, including four youth villages in northern Israel, for the 2017/18 school year. It hopes to be able to offer the program at a highly subsidized cost for these schools.

According to Gadi Mador, CEO of Technoda, the program has the potential to expand to a national program. “Health in Your Hands is a critical social program that will inspire young people to avoid risky behavior,” says Mador. “It will create advocates for positive social behavior, which in turn will have a ripple effect and strengthen the resilience of Israel’s young people; thus strengthening society.”

Technoda, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 1986 to bridge socioeconomic gaps in Israeli society through promoting academic excellence in science and technology. What began as a process to revitalize Givat Olga, has resulted in a ripple effect that is transforming science education for children, youth and teens from underserved regions throughout Israel.

Lisa Samin is President of Jerusalem-based Samin Public Relations, a firm that specializes in resource development and marketing communications for nonprofits.