News: Naval hospital opens doors to students
Story by Lance Cpl. Brianna Christensen
OKINAWA, Japan - Students of AmerAsian School of Okinawa and Kubasaki High School visited the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa at Camp Lester to participate in the science, service, medicine and mentoring program July 23-27.
The program, also known as S2M2, is designed to provide learning opportunities to high school students interested in pursuing a career in science or medicine.
“This program has been in the U.S. since 2007, but this is the first time we have done it here,” said Navy Lt. So Y. Newton, the head of staff education and training at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa.
Newton began planning for implementation of this program at the hospital about two months ago.
“I have always wanted an opportunity like this for my students,” said Midori Thayer, the principal and founder of AmerAsian School of Okinawa. “The hospital reached out and asked if I would like to participate, and I was so excited to bring them here.”
During the weeklong summer program, the students toured the operating room, cast room and research lab. They also learned about the pharmacy, preventive medicine and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“I think this program is fantastic,” said Lt. Cmdr. Emeka Ofobike, the head of the orthopedics department at the hospital. “The students get to come into the hospital, see what the medical field entails, and experience a lot of hands-on training.”
“The students have never had such a big opportunity,” said Midori.
While the students toured the hospital, they had the chance to experience having a cast firsthand.
“We actually sent the children home with a cast on their arm,” said Newton. “Many of the students were excited to play with the casts, but they don’t realize how tedious it really is to have a broken bone. We placed a cast on each one of the children’s dominant arm, so they could experience what it is like when something as simple as combing their hair or brushing their teeth becomes difficult.”
The orthopedic technicians removed the casts from the children’s arms the next day.
This is the first time the program has been brought to this hospital, but will not likely be the last.
“If everything goes well, we hope to have more training during winter break,” said Newton. “Hopefully we can expand it to (other) schools.”