Six Medical Students Honored as Game Changers

March 4, 2019


Many medical career hopefuls choose their professional paths because of an idealist mentality. They want to change the world. And as lofty a goal as that sounds, it’s certainly not implausible. In fact, the American Medical Association’s Change in Medical Education Consortium earlier this month honored six students who are doing just that.

Winners of the Health Systems Science Student Impact Competition were rightly recognized for implementing project that created positive changes within health systems both here in the United States and abroad. These enterprising young students are:

Kevin Tyan, a first-year student at Harvard Medical School who co-invented Highlight, an additive for disinfectants that colorizes them blue, assuring full coverage on surfaces, then fades to clear in real-time when decontamination is complete. Prompted by the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which placed health care workers treating infected patients at a 20-times higher chance of becoming infected themselves, the product is in the field by organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and was piloted at eight US hospitals. It’s a critical improvement in the health field, as such infections are responsible for more than 99,000 patient deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Aidan Berry, then a third-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, who used electronic health record queries and chart reviews to identify high-risk pediatric asthma patients. The health system then reached out to those young patients’ parents and guardians to schedule follow-up appointments, assuring more thorough care. The program also created training sessions after which clinical staff reported a significant improvement in their ability to educate patients about asthma-related topics. 

Smrithi Sukumar, a second-year student at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, who, via conversations with patients and providers as well as reviews of patient medical records, found that 57 percent of patients reported being prescribed more opioids than needed following minimally invasive gynecologic oncology surgery. Her inquiry led to the number of oxycodone pills prescribed to patients after these procedures decreasing by 30 percent with patients reporting no difference in quality of pain management. According to research by the CDC, upward of 218,000 people nationwide died from overdoses related to prescription opioids, and such deaths were five times higher in 2017 than in 1999.

Richard Lang, a Lang, a fourth-year student at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School whose exposure-based team work program trained 650 medical, nursing and pharmacy students within the Rutgers Schools of Biomedical Health Science.

Jasmyne Jackson, a fourth-year student at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, who developed the Future Physician Summit, an outreach program aimed at attracting underrepresented minorities to medical schools.

Thomas Weppelmann, a second-year student at Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine who used mathematical models to examine the effectiveness of the oral inactivated whole-cell cholera vaccine in Haiti. By examining three different simulation scenarios, the project was able to determine that cholera elimination could be possible with the currently available vaccine by 2023.

We here at WOLFPACC salute these students and others whose work and research have the potential to bring about needed change in the medical field. If the idea of positively impacting the lives of hundreds of patients piques your interest, consider enrolling in WOLFPACC. Our innovative approach to medical study, training and practice can help assure you’ll be a standout in your studies and career. Call 904-209-3140 or contact us online to learn how.