The Young Scientist in Training (YSIT) Program returned in the summer of 2021 with the help of Ms. Mamie Green and Mr. Walter Musi. Ten students from Baltimore City and Baltimore County participated in a 4-week program at the Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School with activities planned by the Johns Hopkins Medicine Departments of Pathology and Radiology. The theme this year focused on “Careers in Pathology and Radiology” and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We had many laboratory staff participate representing multiple laboratories who shared their experiences as a laboratory professional and their pathway to pathology.
The program’s first week kicked off with Lorraine Blagg and Lucy Pierre discussing the career options within pathology and sharing each of their professional journeys. Taylor Clinton & Aaron Mahomes, members of our processing and phlebotomy teams met with the students to discuss their role in patient care and how COVID-19 impacted their everyday tasks. Taylor recalls his experience with the YSIT program:
“The students within the YSIT program were very attentive, interested and did not hesitate to ask us any questions they had regarding our job roles and working in the lab. It is exciting to see the youth be so ambitious, and goal orientated about their futures.”
The program’s second week had a visit from members of our medical microbiology and hematology laboratories. Lucy Pierre and Ruth Umali from the Core Laboratories presented a session on the impact of COVID-19 on Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), Differentials, and Coagulation.
Paula Mister and Abigeal Babatunde from medical microbiology presented a session to the YSIT student group about pandemics, vaccines and how they work in the immune system, and COVID-19 vaccines. Myths about vaccines and a question and answer session followed. After the presentation, a ”herd immunity” experiment was conducted in the group by designating various numbers of “infected” students and “vaccinated” students to show that as a greater percentage of the population is vaccinated, the sooner the spread of an infectious disease can be slowed or even halted altogether.
The program’s third week focused on anatomic pathology. Dr. Marissa White, Dr. Laura Wake, and Yulanda Mitchell discussed the role of surgical pathology in patient care using a hands-on approach. The students learned how tissues go from the OR to the microscopic slide, and had the opportunity to see specimens such as cirrhotic livers, lung cancers, and lungs with pulmonary emboli. The team also brought H&E and special stain slides for the students to look at under the microscope. Ghazal Khan and Dr. Zahra Maleki also discussed cytopathology, and its role in cancer prevention and diagnosis.
The program’s fourth and final week included a visit from transfusion medicine and chemistry. Kristy Ball, Kyle Forsythe, and Lorraine Blagg from the transfusion medicine laboratory, met with the students to discuss how the blood supply has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After reviewing the causes of blood shortages and how to motivate blood donors, the students developed recruitment ideas to host their own blood drive this fall. Lucy Pierre, Ruth Umali, and Christine Hostetter participated in the blood gas presentation, the chemistry topic.
We were all so happy to have Christine return to see the YSIT program as this was a program she and Ms. Green developed almost 20 years ago.
Lorraine N. Blagg, MA, MLS(ASCP)CMSBB
Pathology Education and Development Lead