‘It’s pretty intense’: Montreal teens experience the medical life at CHUM

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WATCH: Montreal's French superhospital is giving high school students the chance to experience work in a medical environment for two weeks. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, teenagers get to observe procedures before they are thrown into emergency medical simulations – Jul 20, 2018

Seventeen-year-old Olivier Nguyen from Collège Jean-Eudes in Rosemont is one of 50 high school students taking part in two workshops, each one week long, at CHUM, Montreal’s French super-hospital.

“It’s pretty intense,” he laughs as he waits to take part in another medical simulation.

It’s called the Summer School Academy, for students to experience work in a medical environment.

READ MORE: More than 100 patients transferred to new CHUM superhospital

Sarah Mehenni is the assistant director of the Learning and Teaching Academy at the hospital.  She explains that as part of the hospital’s teaching mandate, “we created an immersion for the secondary four and five [students] to experience the life of doctors, nurses and all health professionals.”

It’s the first time they’re having the workshop.  More than 200 students, mostly from Montreal, applied.  They get to observe medical procedures, like brain surgery, which Nguyen found stressful.

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“It was very strict because they said to me ‘don’t touch the blue stuff.’  [But] there’s blue stuff everywhere,” he laughs.  “Goddammit!”

After tutorials, they’re thrown into emergency medical simulations, like trying to save a drowning victim, moving him and reviving him in the emergency room.

Nguyen, meanwhile, played the role of paramedic and then emergency room doctor.  “It was a bit stressful because I wasn’t expecting it at all!  One thing I learned was that every second counts!”

But he enjoyed it.

READ MORE: Jonathan Drouin makes a hefty donation to Montreal’s CHUM hospital

He wasn’t the only one having a blast at the workshop over the last few days.  Fifteen-year-old Melody Yacoubian from Collège Saint-Anne in Lachine was surprised by how realistic everything was.

“It was really the real thing,” she says.  “You were in the OR, you were with patients — it was just truly incredible!”

One reason for the workshop is to help students explore career options.  Some have already made up their mind.

“Yeah, of course,” says Nguyen, lighting up.  “I want to be a cardiac surgeon!  “Of course!”

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Yacoubian thinks she might want to be a surgeon too.

“Before this academy I had no idea,” she tells Global News.  “So I was really able to narrow down and figure out what I would be ready to do.”

Officials say there’s a good chance this will be an annual event.  After this one they’ll have an evaluation and then decide.