February Ladder meeting recap – the lungs!

At February’s meeting of the Ladder, medical scholars of all ages learned about lungs – how they work, how to find out if they’re working right, and what it sounds and looks like when they’re not working very well.

Before diving into learning about lungs, Medical Scholar Renee introduced us all to what the Ladder is and does, and then shared a quote from Dr. Mae Jemison – the first African American woman in space: “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”


We broke into groups to eat lunch and talk about a time in each of our lives that we accomplished something that someone (maybe friends, family, teachers or all of the above!) didn’t think we could do. Without exception – every person had an example of something they accomplished that someone in their life didn’t believe they were capable of. It proves Dr. Jemison’s point – that if we limit ourselves to what others think of us, we may never get anywhere or accomplish anything!

Each group then had the opportunity to learn about lungs and ways to check how someone’s lungs are working (and to know if they’re not working very well!).

At one station – medical scholars learned how to use stethoscopes…


…and finger taps (yeah – something as simple as finger taps!) to check the lungs:


We learned a simple way to use balloons to estimate your lung capacity (and compare it to the person sitting next to you!):


We also learned about pulse oximetry as a way to check your hemoglobin (the molecule that totes oxygen through your blood) and find out how “saturated” your blood is with oxygen. You’ve probably had your pulse oximetry checked at the doctor’s office with a little sensor clipped on your finger:


In addition to testing each of our own oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter, one person in each group volunteered to breath into a bag (so they were breathing in more carbon dioxide than oxygen) so we could all watch the pulse oximeter show their oxygen level decrease:


These volunteers were monitored carefully and only allowed to do this long enough to demonstrate!

To close off our meeting – we read together the Ladder Pledge – which is simply a verbal commitment we make to each other as Medical Scholars that helps us stay focused to always keep learning, to work to make ourselves and our communities better, and to support each other.

You too can be a medical scholar – whether you’re 9 or 99 years old! Whether you’re interested in becoming a doctor, surgeon, nurse, dental hygienist or anything at all in the field of medicine, or if you just think health science and medicine is cool – all are welcome! The next Ladder meeting is Saturday March 9 at 12:30pm at the UROC building (2001 Plymouth Ave N). The UROC building is reachable by Metro Transit bus routes 19, 32 & 7.  Lunch will be provided!

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