Eastern juniors start an Introduction to Medicine club for students interested in the medical field

“We hope that the ITM club will continue for years at Eastern, even after we graduate,” junior Ava Natale said.


Leah Levitt

The founders of the Introduction to Medicine club meet over Zoom to discuss their upcoming plans for members.

     It was a normal day, pre-COVID-19 lockdown, for then-sophomores Ava Natale, Jaclyn Nyce, Yusra Khan, Hira Khan, and Leah Levitt. The noise of chatting voices and rustling wrappers filled the Learning Center as they sat at their normal table for lunch, just as they had done everyday since freshman year. The topic of discussion on this particular day: the clubs at Eastern. Being that they were all interested in the medical field, they were talking about what specific clubs they could join to gain exposure to the field. 

     “I wish there was something like a medical club for us to join,” one of them said. 

     “Why don’t we just start one?”

     A few months later on a quarantined day, then-sophomores Yash Davalbhakta, Dhruv Patel, Sean O’Connor, Josh Manoj, and Dhruv Sureka were FaceTiming. They decided that it would be fun to start a club to stay occupied during these lonely times. Like the girls, they realized there was no medicine based one.

     “Since a few of us wanted to go down that career path and we were all interested in it, we decided to start it ourselves,” Davalbhakta said. 

     When both groups took the idea to Mr. Steve Picot, Vice Principal of Athletics and Activities, during quarantine last school year, he put them in contact with each other to collaborate. 

     “As we moved on, we got to know each other and put our ideas together,” Nyce said. 

     “Exactly, it was an unexpected occurrence, but it turned out to work really, really well for the club,” Patel said.

     Starting the Introduction to Medicine (ITM) club completely virtual was challenging at first because it was difficult to communicate without that face-to-face aspect. After playing a few rounds of Among Us as a virtual icebreaker, the group settled into a new groove of not being afraid to share ideas and bounce them off of each other. 

     The newly-formed group then took their idea to Mrs. Michele Pagenkopf to be their advisor. 

      “I was excited to be able to help them. Certainly, we had nothing like it at Eastern,” she said. As a biology teacher, she knew many of her students wanted to go into the medical field, and this club is great exposure to this. 

     And that’s exactly why the students started it. There’s DECA for people who want to go into business and Mock Trial for future lawyers, but there was nothing for students interested in pursuing a career in the medical field. 

     The goals of this club are to “educate and inspire students, inform them about different careers in medicine, and gain knowledge and skills necessary to go into the medical field,” Hira Khan said. 

     Students who join will be able to participate in guest speaker events, volunteer opportunities, CPR, EMT, and First Aid certifications, live demonstrations, and debates on current issues in the medical field. 

     “We really want to be doing hands-on activities, like practicing suturing on a banana and other surgical labs,” Levitt said. 

     The founders have had to shift their mindset to adapt their club to fit in the COVID-19 guidelines. Their original plans for these hands-on activities have to be put on hold for the time being. In the meantime, they’re utilizing the power of the internet to connect people from all over the world. 

     “We’ll have Q and A panels with medical experts from all corners of the medical field,” O’Connor said. 

     Besides virtual panels, there are also plans in place for virtual CPR classes. Once in-person meetings are allowed, these can be hands-on, but there will still be a virtual option for those who want.  

     As a student driven club, the founders want members to get involved. 

     “I don’t want it to be my ideas; I want their ideas,” Mrs. Pagenkopf said. “I’m really just advising.”

     “Students will gain leadership skills through experience,” Manoj said. 

     “Yeah, we’re finding tons of ways for members to get involved in our club besides just participating in events,” Yusra Khan said.

     In the end, it was the unexpected combination of the two groups that made the ITM club the ITM club.

     “It’s helped us run the club more efficiently, and I think it’s what makes us stand out at Eastern,” Sureka said. 

     Students can join the club through their Google Classroom and keep up with updates through their Instagram and Remind.

“We hope that the ITM club will continue for years at Eastern, even after we graduate,” Natale said.