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This article was published 30/11/2007 (3431 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The students munched happily, not a fainter among them, no one scurrying for the washroom.
They watched in fascination as MacDonald sliced through flesh, shaved away bone, drove in $250-a-pop minuscule anchors and then elegantly threaded a needle and sutures through the anchors.
And all the while, Pan Am Clinic CEO Dr. Wayne Hildahl and COTE principal Lorne Belmore beamed in excitement and relief.
Would the kids get bored and tune out? Would they freak out at the sight of surgery?
No way. They loved their introduction to careers in medicine and health care.
"Do I think I can do it?" mused Dezireh Abraham, thinking for awhile as she watched MacDonald work. "I can probably do it," she concluded with a big grin.
"If I really put my mind to it and focused, anything is possible, like this guy (Hildahl) says," said Jade Thompson.
That kind of talk elated Hildahl and Belmore, who have launched what is believed to be Canada's first medical internship program for aboriginal kids living in the heart of the inner city.
Beginning this year, Children of the Earth will introduce Grade 9 students to the possibility of careers in medicine and health care.
By Grade 10, a winnowed-down group of six to 10 students will spend three years regularly working at Pan Am alongside doctors, nurses, technicians, physiotherapists and other skills among the 400 people on staff at the clinic -- discovering they can do the same.
Each year, another group will start a four-year internship that could well lead to university or community college.
"The kids are very excited about the program," Belmore said. "We're talking unique, probably in the entire country."
They gathered Thursday to watch on giant screens as MacDonald and a surgical team repaired a torn rotator cuff a floor below. Multi-screens showed the team at work, the patient anesthetized, his arm held aloft and his shoulder isolated, while a camera-bearing probe inserted in the patient's shoulder magnified the tendons, bones, tissue, blood and tiny medical instruments into a surreal and amazingly coloured large-screen landscape.
Hildahl told the students that surgery and medicine are "not rocket science", but while they take long years of education and hard work, Hildahl joked that if he can go to medical school, anyone can.
"In the next five, 10, 20 years, there's going to be a massive shortage in health care," said Hildahl.
Jordon Hart said he sees a future in physiotherapy or massage therapy, "like muscles in the body and stuff."
"It's exciting and scary at the same time," Dezireh said. "I think it's so interesting -- it's weird watching that."
"I thought it would be really gory and gross," said Jade, who wants to be a veterinarian.
"I think it's really great and exciting to have this kind of program, and this kind of experience. That's why I came to Children of the Earth, because of this program," said Mercedes Henrikson, who moved to COTE from Tec Voc this year. She wants to be a family practitioner, said Mercedes, adding her dad is studying nursing at red River College.
Like his classmates, Danny Wood said he had no problems eating pizza while watching surgery. "It's kind of amazing how they look inside the thing like that," he said.
"I'm thinking of being a doctor."