Apollo Youth in Medicine

Doctor Mentors


Institutions Involved

The Question

What does it take to be a physician? What is a day in the life of a physician like? What do different types of physicians do? These are just a few of the questionsthat high school students like Sean Holly, a senior at Saint Elizabeth High School in Wilmington, ask themselves. A new student-run partnership between the Delaware Youth Leadership Network (DYLN) and the Medical Society of Delaware (MSD), named Apollo: Youth in Medicine, was piloted to help high school students answer these and other similar questions.

The Big Idea

Like many high school students interested in the physician career path, Sean sought
numerous opportunities to explore his interest. He volunteered in various medical
settings. In each of these environments, despite being surrounded by medical
professionals, there was very little student/ physician interaction. Without specific personal connections and limited by restrictive hospital policies, he found few readily accessible shadowing options.

Left to right: Nancy Fan, MD; Randeep S. Kahlon, MD; Prayus T. Tailor, MD

The Pilot

The pilot session of Apollo consisted of 20 students from four area high schools: Conrad Schools of Science, As the leaves were starting to change in mid-October, the Apollo team conducted its first Educational Information Session at MSD, with a trio of Past Presidents carrying the education mantel. MSD Past President Prayus Tailor, MD discussed the various types of medicine, MSD Past President Nancy Fan, MD informed the students about the DIMER program, and MSD Past President Dr. Kahlon moderated the session and led the training on HIPAA.

Using an online sign-up system that tracked the list of available physicians and available time slots, the participating high school students were able to individually choose their shadow doctor (and specialty). In preparation for the shadow day, students were given a primer that contained basic information about each physician’s specialty.

This included information such as what the specialty covers, common conditions, and common treatments, giving students a chance to prepare before their shadow day. For the physicians, all student documentation was provided before the shadowing day so that the physicians only hosted students who had appropriate documentation, specialty-specificn education, and formal HIPAA training. The pilot session of the Apollo physician shadowing experiences took place in November — just three months after the first planning meeting!

The Next Steps

In January 2019, for its second session, Apollo expanded to 20 new students from four additional high schools, using the same format as the pilot, with some modifications based on the feedback. In addition, all students from the initial pilot session were given an opportunity to “give back” to the program by creating new educational resources for the next session  and, if completed, those students could choose to participate in the second session.

The team hopes to continue to expand the program to multiple sessions per school year with growth throughout the state, as well as recruit more student leaders. The Apollo leaders aim to increase the physician volunteer cohort to include a larger selection of both employed and private-practice Bottom left: Gabrielle Ryu. Bottom right: Ryan Stephens shadowing Elliott H. Leitman, MD at First State.


Orthopaedics. physicians statewide, as well as to offer shadow session opportunities that cover multiple days per student. In addition, the program founders have aspirational goals of expanding the program to other health care sectors (nursing, physician assistants, physical therapy, etc.) or to other career paths, like law or engineering.

The Apollo program is an example of a home-grown idea that was implemented successfully in Delaware due to diligent youth student leadership, active physician engagement, and organizational support from MSD and DYLN.

Reviews and Outcomes

To better gauge student feedback of the pilot, surveys were sent after the initial Educational Information Session and again after the shadow date. The responses were overwhelmingly positive, with 93% of the participants stating they would recommend the program. The top suggestion from students was to increase the number of shadowing experiences offered from more than just one per student. One of the main goals of the program was to increase the students’ knowledge about the physician career path in medical education, and 100% of the students who responded to the survey agreed that the program had accomplished this goal.

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