FACES Students Learn About Mental Illness and More at the Summer Medical Academy

FACES for the Future Summer Medical Academy participants were on the Oakland Samuel Merritt University (SMU) campus July 7-18. The academy is an educational summer program that provides young people with unique and exciting opportunities to explore the world of medical training and practice.

Founded by Dr. Tomás A. Magaña (pictured below right, with a FACES student) in 2005, the FACES Summer Medical Academy is designed to inspire students to become caring, insightful health professionals in a complex and rapidly changing world. Magaña is an Assistant Professor/Medical Director in the Master Physician Assistant Program at Samuel Merritt University.

Dr. Michelle DeCoux Hampton, Associate Professor and Doctor of Nursing Practice Program Director, facilitated a class in which students experienced first hand what it is like to be schizophrenic.

The students were given headphones to wear in which they would hear voices. Then, they were asked to do tasks, like read, memorize numbers, and do brain puzzles, all while hearing these voices - much like what a schizophrenic person experiences. (You can learn more about this in the Huffington Post, in which journalist Anderson Cooper participates in the same experiment.)

"We have being doing this since 2006; it's what we do with our students in mental health nursing as well," said Hampton.

Some of the feedback from the students included statements such as:
"Since I can grasp what they are experiencing, I can be more empathetic."
"The only way you can truly help a person is if you understand their experiences."
"I learned a lot about what it is like and now i have a new perspective on schizophrenia."

The FACES students also attended a Human Diversity and Health Disparities class, (taught by Leticia Marquez-Magaña, a researcher at SF State), along with several classes taught by SMU faculty. They learned about wound management, organ transplants, simulation learning, pathology, ethics, end-of-life care, and even took a tour of the UCSF Medical School.