MONROE, La (P&S Surgical Hospital News Release) - Visiting high school students to the P&S Surgical Hospital learned how to map the human heart, treat heart arrhythmia, and even understand the importance of following their own hearts.
Alvaro Manrique Garcia, M.D., a board certified cardiac electrophysiologist who specializes in the electrical system of the heart, encouraged the visiting high school students to “follow their hearts” when choosing a medical profession.
“Choose this profession because you love it, because you want to make people feel better. It’s so important to follow your heart when deciding what to do with your life.”
The 10 junior and senior high school students from Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi visited P&S Surgical Hospital’s Cardiac and Peripheral-Vascular Laboratories as part of the University of Louisiana at Monroe President’s Academy, a preparatory program for high-ability junior and senior high school students.
The young scholars—all of whom are interested in pursuing a medical profession—imagined their futures today when they performed simulated cardiac ablations on chicken breast tissue. A cardiac ablation, which is performed on adult patients of all ages, has the ability to transform a patient’s quality of life by eradicating areas in the heart that are producing abnormal electrical impulses and causing heart arrhythmia.
The students utilized three dimensional cardiac mapping, just as an electrophysiologist would do to capture a clear picture of the heart’s inner workings. The students also learned to locate where the irregular rhythm occurred and cauterize the particular cell causing the arrhythmia.
One such student was Kyla Mccall of Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Today’s hands-on experience, combined with Manrique’s words, solidified her future career choices, she said.
“When I was six years old, I found out that I had a heart murmur, so I’ve been in and out of cardiology offices. Dr. Manrique talked to us today about his specialty, and he really made me fall in love with it,” she said. “I didn’t know what field to go into, but I think he just convinced me to study cardiology.”
To put it simply, an electrophysiologist is an “electrician of the heart.” This type of cardiologist focuses on heart rhythm disorders, which can produce symptoms such as palpitations, light-headedness, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and in extreme cases, collapse and sudden cardiac arrest.
Manrique, the son of two physicians, knew he wanted to be an electrophysiologist when he realized how the specialty could transform lives. He moved from Peru to the United States in 2004, and began working at P&S a year ago.
“I love electrophysiology because you can instantly determine what is wrong with a patient and permanently fix that problem through a minimally invasive procedure,” he said. “We have had several patients with heart arrhythmia, and they were limited physically. They would get very tired and very fatigued. After the ablations, their energy levels returned to normal, and they were able to do things they were not able to do before.”
P&S Surgical Hospital CEO Linda S. Holyfield said she appreciated the chance to host the PA students. Holyfield, a ULM nursing graduate, has been inviting ULM interns to work at P&S Surgical Hospital for many years. “Hands on education” is so important, she said.
“We welcome the opportunity to educate high school students about potential careers in healthcare. Electrophysiology is a great example of the innovation they can anticipate in their own professions. It’s so important to encourage our children to imagine the possibilities.”
President’s Academy Students at P&S
Jenny Bond, Cabot High School, Austin, Arkansas
James Butler, Corinth High School, Corinth, Mississippi
Kristen Clement, Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy, Terrytown, Louisiana
Lauren Ducote, Mandeville High School, Mandeville, Louisiana
River Gordon, Northwest Rankin High School, Brandon, Mississippi
Evan Hebert, Kaplan High School, Kaplan, Louisiana
Laine Keel, George County High School, Lucedale, Mississippi
Kyla Mccall, Oak Grove High School, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Emma Orman, Magnolia Heights School, Olive Branch, Mississippi
Lauryn Smith, Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, Meridian, Mississippi
P&S Surgical Hospital is a joint venture among physician specialists and St. Francis Medical Center.