Lab coats are hanging in the closet and journals are full of stories about summer experiences for three young women from Stillwater High School.
Over the past several weeks, readers have been following along as Paeton Watkins, Maggie Walter, and Sarah Teeman have journeyed through the experience of a lifetime as part of Stillwater Medical Foundation’s high school internship program.
The dream of Dr. Orville Rippy, the program provides each student with six weeks to shadow doctors, nurses, therapists, and other allied health professionals. They observe surgeries, births and a variety of clinical procedures. The students also visit medical schools and specialized care centers in Tulsa and OKC.
“Dr. Rippy not only started my experience, but he inspired Dr. Breedlove and Dr. Henry to extend the opportunity to more students. It’s been life-changing. Words can’t express my gratitude,” Watkins, the 2019 Rippy Fellow said.
The first Rippy Fellow was named in 1984 and since then 83 students have been in the program.
“I’ve had the honor to work with 70 of the interns during my time at the Foundation,” Jeffery Corbett, Senior Program Officer, said. “I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment as I keep up with their achievements. This year’s interns are in great company.”
Sarah Teeman, the Breedlove Extern, has expressed interest in neurology and medical research.
“Having the option to be a doctor and explore new treatment possibilities is exciting,” Teeman said.
The scope of the program has expanded in recent years. Students have the opportunity to meet with medical residents in behavioral science and tour the College of Pharmacy at OU. While the students are often surprised by their interest in a particular field, Corbett feels he hasn’t done his job until each of them has a moment when they become interested in a field they hadn’t previously considered.
“I really enjoyed physical therapy and I wasn’t expecting that to pique my interest,” Maggie Walter, the Franklin Fellow said. “Seeing the manipulations was a new experience. It really stuck out in my mind.”
Recently this year’s interns were honored during the Foundation’s annual scholars’ reception. Program alumni are also invited to attend. Corbett had the opportunity recognize two past Rippy Fellows, Kamakshi Vaidyanathan and Kaylea Bixler, who just began their first year of medical school at OSU-HSC in Tulsa. This raises the total to 24 physicians and medical school students to grow from the program.
During the event, D. Scott Petty, Executive Director of the Stillwater Medical Foundation, announced that a fourth summer internship has been endowed. The donor, a retired healthcare worker and long-time supporter of the Foundation, has asked to remain anonymous at this time.
“For 36 years, the Foundation has been fostering some of the best and brightest students from our region to explore healthcare,” Petty stated. “We’re blessed to have this donor come forward and provide more students the opportunity to explore their dreams.”
Students who meet the eligibility requirements, found online at www.smc-foundation.org, are encouraged to reach out to Mr. Corbett and make sure you are notified when the application goes live for the 2020 internships. Reach him at email@example.com or 405-742-5728.