UK medical students brighten children’s futures


Pre-med junior Faith Evans poses for a portrait in front of Albert B. Chandler Hospital at the University of Kentucky on Sunday, October 16, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. Evans works with at-risk children as part of the Medical Technologies Innovation Team. Photo by Joshua Qualls | Staff

Olivia Jones

At-risk students are opening doors to their future through the efforts of the Medical Technologies Innovation Team. 

“I was presented with a product development idea by Dr. Roth (UK Hospital general surgeon) during a laparoscopic surgery and I wanted to continue working with students,” said third-year UK College of Medicine student Alex Wade. 

Wade worked with Kentucky State University Chief Innovations Officer Dr. Ron Chi to develop the program that launched in 2015. The idea was to bring at-risk students together with medical faculty, undergraduates and graduate students to reintroduce the idea that education can help achieve goals.

Wade began working with Chi in 2006 at Winburn Middle School with the Math and Science Knowledge Enhancement program. He said that MASKE emphasized the importance of education to at-risk students through the use of design projects, and helped them “meet their full potential.”

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Faith Evans, a pre-med UK undergraduate student, was brought in to initiate the multi-education level implementation. 

Wade said he, Evans and Chi have been working with the students for almost a year “to help them develop medical technologies to impact laparoscopic surgeries and other modalities.”

Evans defined laparoscopic surgery as a minimally invasive procedure that shortens recovery time for patients. Long, fiber optic cables called laparoscopes are inserted through small incisions allowing the surgeon to view the procedure area without the need for larger incisions. 

“The students have really taken their ideas and run with them, working on their projects in all their free time and choosing to stay after school to spend even more time with their teams,” Evans said.

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Students from Frankfort Independent Schools, The Learning Center at Linlee and ACE Alternative Center in Boone County are all participating in the program. Students who are interested sign up on their own and are organized into teams with a teacher overseeing their project. Each team comes to the Minimally Invasive Surgery Lab at UK to gain work experience and present project ideas to MTIT and UK faculty.

Wade explained that the students will complete their designs and present them to Roth by the end of the fall semester. Roth will test the projects in the lab, giving feedback and evaluations so adjustments can be made. Then, the students will submit their designs to scientific conferences for publications and patents. 

The program will not be over after this laparoscopic project, as Wade is working with Evans to create a student organization with MTIT on campus by the spring semester. A goal is to expand the program by connecting with more undergraduate and medical students to bring MTIT to more middle and high schools. 

“We want to provide the support that they need to realize their potential,” Wade said. “These students have an incredible ability to impact others and we want to make sure that they have the opportunity to do so.”