Summer CSGC Grant Update: Educating Local Teens on Emergency Healthcare

A Johns Hopkins study suggests that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Most errors reflect poorly coordinated care, fragmented insurance networks, and the absence or underuse of safety nets and other protocols. Doctors’ offices require teens to be the first point of contact after age thirteen when they are given direct access to their healthcare portals. Often, parents are asked to step out of the room during exams, yet there is little education around navigating the healthcare system. Teens are not educated on the cost of healthcare, health insurance constraints, or the repercussions of choosing in-network or out-of-network providers. Then at the age of eighteen, they could suddenly be responsible for significant medical bills when accidents occur at college. Students should start training in and learning about healthcare in general during their teenage years.

My project is focused on creating a resource for teenagers and young adults to make them more knowledgeable about health care. I am including information about emergency medicine and general healthcare. To disseminate the information, I am creating a website and podcast that will feature interviews with both health care professionals and stories from teens, who have lessons to share from their own experiences in health care situations.

I am excited about the interviews I am conducting with both professionals and teenagers. I am capturing multiple perspectives and gathering stories to share. These personal interviews will give listeners information about what other people have experienced. One person I have interviewed is Matt Wolkenbreit from Community 911. He works in training people in CPR, first aid, and other types of emergency health care. His interview, like others, has been instrumental in bringing my project together.

The website will also feature links and information that I have gathered that I believe is helpful. For example, one resource will be digital drawing diagrams of CPR procedures. The goal is for the diagrams to be simple, but also clear, and include as much information without overpowering the viewer. I am also using my digital art skills to design parts of the website.

In the past few weeks, I have participated in an ambassador program at my local hospital, where I have shadowed doctors and nurses in different departments each day, from oncology to surgery. Each day I see different areas of the hospital and how it all comes together to make a working machine. Through this program, I have made connections and learned a great deal about how hospitals run. I talk to all people at all levels of the healthcare world each day. Once the ambassador program is complete, I will work as a volunteer in two departments within the hospital for the rest of the summer. All of this information and experiences have come together to give me new perspectives on what I am achieving.

-Toler ’24