By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Colfax High School Senior Megan Schleusner already knows what she wants to be: a trauma surgeon and an emergency room physician.
As part of her progress toward that goal, Megan attended the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, sponsored by the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, in Boston this past June.
Students who attend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders must have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher, must aspire to become physicians, scientists or technologists and must possess leadership potential.
Students are nominated to attend the Congress by their teachers, counselors, principals or past attendees.
“I was nominated because of my academic performance and interest in the medical field. A former Colfax High School student who had attended knew of my medical interest and nominated me as a potential delegate,” Megan said.
The Colfax school district has been aware of the Congress of Future Medical Leaders for the past five years, but up until Megan’s participation this summer, only one other CHS student, Ben Shaw, has attended the Congress, said John Dachel, principal at Colfax High School.
“It was an awesome opportunity for Megan,” Dachel said, noting that it was also a great opportunity for a small school like Colfax to be represented at the Congress.
“The people who presented (at the Congress of Future Medical Leaders) are at the top in their field,” he said.
The theme of each Congress is “Greatness Awaits,” and students have an opportunity to be taught and mentored by Nobel Prize winners, recipients of the National Medal of Science, and Harvard professors and researchers.
This year’s presenters included Sir Richard Roberts, Ph.D., winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; William A Gahl, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Director at the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health; and George M. Whitesides, Ph.D., Recipient of the National Medal of Science and Harvard University Professor of Chemistry.
While at the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, students also watch a live surgery and have an opportunity to question the surgeon in real time.
“We watched a hip arthroplasty (hip replacement). It was a great experience. They had medical personnel on hand for those who became faint from watching it. The surgeons took questions from the delegates throughout the entire surgery,” Megan said.
One interesting aspect of the Congress, she said, were the other delegates who attended.
“The most interesting part was the number of delegates. There were all different nationalities, from all over the globe. I still keep in touch with friends I met from Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Czechoslovakia as well as the U.S.,” Megan said.
“My goal is to be either a trauma surgeon or an emergency room physician. Another interest was piqued after shadowing physicians as part of the Medical Experience program at Luther Midelfort this summer. I am also considering the possibility of becoming an OB/GYN physician,” she said.
Megan has already applied to UW-Eau Claire and UW-Madison.
“I am choosing to stay in-state to save money during my undergraduate years, as I have many more years of education ahead of me,” she said.
“I can’t wait to see where my schooling will take me. After touring many med schools, such as Johns Hopkins, during my medical camps, I realize there are so many possibilities that await,” Megan said.
Students who attend either the Congress of Future Medical Leaders or the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders, sponsored by the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists, are automatically inducted into the Torch and Laurel Society.
Membership in the Torch and Laurel Society gives students access to over $100,000 in college scholarships and also grants them the opportunity to participate in an elite mentorship program.
Students who successfully complete the Congress of Future Medical Leaders receive an Award of Excellence to certify their participation.
John Dachel presented the Award of Excellence to Megan at school September 8.
“I would highly recommend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders to other students. After attending, I am an official spokesperson for the Congress, and I have the ability to nominate future delegates. It was an amazing experience, and I encourage any students to reach out to me if they have an interest, Megan said.
To help raise awareness about the Congress of Future Medical Leaders among students at Colfax High School, Dachel said he has asked Megan to do a presentation to those who are interested in the medical field.