Time out with T.O. - A med center moment

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | August 25, 2017

Image with caption: Ann Anderson Berry, M.D., Ph.D., a neonatologist at UNMC, shows Jayleesha Cooper how to resuscitate a tiny infant.

Ann Anderson Berry, M.D., Ph.D., a neonatologist at UNMC, shows Jayleesha Cooper how to resuscitate a tiny infant.

I like to call it a med center moment -- when something special happens that just doesn't happen at other work places.

Last week, was one such moment. It happened at Girls Inc., a fantastic community resource in North Omaha that helps young women develop the skills they need to be successful.

It started with two UNMC/Nebraska Medicine physicians -- Ann Anderson Berry, M.D., Ph.D., a neonatologist, and Ali Cushman-Vokoun, M.D., Ph.D., a pathologist.

Their idea -- have eight female physicians from UNMC come to Girls Inc. and expose a group of about 40 young women (mostly minorities) to what being a physician is all about.

For good measure, they invited Denai Fraction, an African-American woman, who is a second-year medical student at UNMC and grew up in the halls of Girls Inc.

It was magical to see how the day unfolded.

The students rotated every 30 minutes to a different presentation by a UNMC physician. The topics included newborn medicine, allergies, pediatrics, psychiatry, pathology, family medicine, infectious diseases and internal medicine.

Dr. Cushman-Vokoun provided a crash course on DNA and assisted the students in making DNA necklaces.

It was quite educational. Did you know that human DNA is 98 percent similar to a chimpanzee's DNA, 85 percent similar to mouse DNA, and 50 percent similar to cabbage DNA?

"We wanted to show these students that the sky is the limit when it comes to what they do in their careers," Dr. Anderson Berry said. "We think it sent a powerful message for them to hear from these female health professionals. There are tons of career opportunities in health care. We want them to get a taste of what health care has to offer."

It was equally rewarding to the physicians.

"It was a nice change of pace for me," Dr. Cushman-Vokoun said. "I learned a lot. It also gave me some great perspective."

For Fraction, it was an opportunity to give back to Girls Inc.

"I hope to inspire them to believe in themselves and encourage them that they can do anything they want to do," she said. "There are lots of opportunities for people who come from this community. There are lots of ways that they can accomplish their dreams."

The magic doesn't stop there.

Drs. Anderson Berry and Cushman-Vokoun hope to make it an annual event with a different flavor every year.

More med center moments, no doubt.

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Ruth Scott
August 25, 2017 at 11:17 AM

Another GREAT TIME OUT!! (and one of the best).

Ann Ashford
August 25, 2017 at 10:09 AM

Amazing! Very inspirational.

Chad Vokoun
August 25, 2017 at 9:12 AM

Very Cool! What an experience for these young women and for the Nebraska Medicine providers. Well done!

Nicole Hackendahl
August 25, 2017 at 8:36 AM

This is awesome!

Clarence Ueda
August 25, 2017 at 8:25 AM

Very nice piece, T.O. Keep it up! Go Tigers!

Joan M. Ewalt
August 25, 2017 at 8:01 AM

Absolutely loved this article. What a great way to inspire these young women.

Anne Lawlor
August 25, 2017 at 7:45 AM

LOVE THIS! Well, done!!