Nov. 14, 2015 | Technology Innovation Program

– an intersection of technology and healthcare with mentorship from medical faculty.
Throughout September and October, the girls worked alongside their generous sponsor, a physician who works with adults with special needs. Together, the team created a healthcare Apple iBook on “Alzheimer's Dementia in Down Syndrome for Families and Caregivers.” Their exceptional work earned them an Honorable Mention in the UC Irvine iMed Book Jam, a competition with other teams of gifted high school students. Beginning next month, the iBook will be available to patients' families as a free download and will also be published in the Apple iBooks store.
Natalie Rivas | I applied for this program because I spent this last summer conducting scientific research through the LA BioMed Fellowship, and I loved the whole experience. However, I didn’t get to see the whole process of creating papers and releasing the information to the public. This program fulfilled my curiosity of just that. Science and medicine have always been a passion of mine. I have worked with people with special needs, especially with my grandmother that suffers from Alzheimer's. Working with this disease in this project helped me understand my grandmother’s condition a little more while learning so much more new information.
Our mentor allowed Jaida and me to visit one of her patients with Down Syndrome in San Pedro.
I was surprised to see that she lived in a normal home. Her sister was one of the sweetest people I have ever met. She explained to us the difficulty of having to care for her sister on her own along with all of the costs and arrangements that she has to work with. Nonetheless, the sisters remain strong and continue to support each other. I loved how dedicated and devoted they are to one another. I never understood how difficult it is to care for someone until we went to the house. Every little thing counts; from eating, to changing diapers, to bathing, and keeping Rosalie warm. I realized that you have to think beyond the basics when taking care of someone and sometimes you need to be innovative. This was one of the most impactful learning experiences I have ever gone through.
Working with our mentor showed me how much passion and care doctors have for medicine, and most importantly, their patients. I learned about what really goes into the study of medicine, and a large part involves being understanding to the patient.
Jaida and I also worked with a UCI medical student throughout the course of the program. She helped us to distinguish important and relevant information from obscure information. She also helped us understand some of the vocabulary more since we wanted to relay this information to families. We tried to be as creative as possible, using galleries of pictures, videos, and small quizzes, and pop-up diagrams. I truly hope our iBook helps families.
Jaida Nabayan | I was interested in participating in the program because I’ve never had in-depth exposure working in the field of science, and thought this would be a perfect opportunity to test the waters. I’d also never worked with someone who has special needs.
At first, I was nervous to meet our mentor's patient. I didn’t know how to act, what to say, or what to do. Some parts of the visit made me very sad, because she couldn’t recognize who we were or her sister. Other parts were uplifting. It was so admirable to see her sister taking diligent care of her, persevering as a loving caregiver.
Our physician mentor taught us about many of the symptoms that Down Syndrome patients exhibit while developing Alzheimer’s Disease. We also worked with an amazing medical student named Neema. All of the iBooks taught me something about medicine. There were projects on Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Right Colectomy; Complications of HIV Infection – Oral Infections; Medical Spanish for Students; and Chest Radiology for Medical Students. Our projects were judged on creativity, organization, how well the information was developed, and accuracy of information presented. It was very exciting to receive an Honorable Mention amongst such outstanding projects. The program inspired me to pursue science at the University of Notre Dame, the college I hope to attend next fall.
I’m happy to share that there will be another opportunity like this for POLAHS students. Two students will receive a scholarship for the Summer 2016 PreMed Program at UC Irvine. They’ll be able to live on campus at UCI for two weeks, working with some of the top physicians and medical students in the country!