Ryan Grosik may only be 17 years old, but he’s pretty sure he knows exactly what his future holds.
The senior honors student at Conemaugh Township Area High School has a career ambition of becoming a doctor, and during the summer he got to experience first-hand what working in the health profession entails.
For two weeks he participated in the Medical/Veterinary Summer Academy at St. George’s University School of Medicine on the island of Grenada. The program is designed for high school students who are interested in the field of medicine or veterinary medicine.
The premedical academy offered courses that combined lectures, group problem-solving sessions, lab work and hands-on training through simulations of real-life situations.
“I’ve been interested in medicine since seventh grade,” said Ryan, who is the son of Tom and Laurie Grosik of Jerome.
“I heard about the summer academy, and of course I was interested.”
Ryan said he had to apply for admission and submit letters of recommendation from teachers and a doctor who is a friend of the family.
“It’s really competitive, and I didn’t know that until I got down there,” he said. “There were only three other kids there who were by themselves; most were in school groups or from boarding schools, so it was great to be a part of it.”
The students stayed on the university campus and received a tour of the island during the first few days of the stay.
Most of the days were spent doing classroom work, visiting the local hospital and interacting with staff.
“We were introduced to what it’s like to be a medical student,” Ryan said.
While at the hospital, students tended to patients who were actually actors. They did clinical work such as gathering background history, diagnosing medical conditions and determining a proper course of treatment.
“The hospital is very poor, so we helped around with things, too,” Ryan said. “We had to roll cotton to make cotton balls.”
Ryan said his time in Grenada was amazing. Looking back, he cannot believe he had the opportunity to be a part of it.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it set me straight on what I want to do and helped me see what being a medical student is really like and what it’s like after school,” he said. “It was rigorous, but if you’re serious about going into the medical profession this is something to look into.”
In addition to the summer academy, Ryan has attended St. Francis University’s Exploring Medical & Health Care Careers camps and has job shadowed in the emergency room at Miners Medical Center in Hastings.
His plan is to incorporate what he learned from the three experiences into his senior project.
Ryan is still weighing his options in terms of colleges, but said he is leaning toward St. Francis and going into the biology/premed track.
Ryan is a member of a handful of clubs at Conemaugh Township, where he also has lettered in track and wrestling.
He’s active in the youth group at his church, Maple Springs Church of the Brethren, and has traveled to Colorado and Arkansas with the group to work on community projects.
Ryan participates in dual-enrollment college programs with Pennsylvania Highlands Community College and Mount Aloysius College.
Although Ryan’s schedule is busy, he prefers it that way.
“Work hard in your younger years to enjoy your later years,” he said. “You have to work at everything you do and it’ll pay off later.”
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