Surgeon brings operating room to HPHS
Dr. Mark Hill, a professor of surgery at Chicago Medical School, displayed some World War II surgical instruments during his presentation to students at Highland Park High School. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2013 6:19AM
HIGHLAND PARK — For 30 years, surgeon Mark Nolan Hill has visited classes at Highland Park High School to bridge the divide between textbook studies and applied medical practice.
“The students want to know what really happens in the operating room, and how it is similar or different from TV and the movies,” said Hill, a Board-Certified General Surgeon and professor of surgery at Chicago Medical School.
So on Thursday, Hill brought some of the operating room to students when he visited John Gorleski’s Advanced Placement anatomy and physiology classes. His guests included his scrub nurse Rachel Moen of Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and two medical students, Christy Cunningham and Vishal Pandya.
“I first got interested in medicine because I loved the challenge, the puzzle of figuring out what was wrong, because each individual’s pathology is different,” said Cunningham, now a fourth-year medical student. She acknowledged that it’s a long road: Four years of undergraduate studies, four years of medical school and four years as a resident.
“I’ll be about 31 when I’m finished,” said Cunningham, who plans additional studies to become an ophthalmologist.
As a third-year medical student, Pandya is now dealing directly with patients, so Hill asked, “How difficult is it to go from textbooks to looking people straight in the eye, who are asking you questions?”
“A lot of times, as physicians, we are dealing with people who are at a low point,” said Pandya. “Whether you are dealing with patients directly or their families, they are putting their trust in you and that is a very humbling experience.”
During his visits, Hill typically asks the students about their career interests. While some aspire to be physicians, others have expressed interest in business careers related to medicine. So this year, he brought in Lisa Edgarton, a manager for Cook Inc., a medical manufacturer that supplies biologic, prosthetic implants made from human cadaver tissue and pig tissue.
“Technology has expanded so much in medicine that my dependence on, and knowledge of these new products has skyrocketed. I work very closely with these medical device managers, both in and out of the operating room,” said Hill, a Highland Park resident.
Hill’s rock-star status with his medical students was evident in 2011, when he was awarded the faculty Teaching Award - Professor of the Year by students at Chicago Medical College, part of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. The Highland Park resident also is a rocker in his spare time, headlining a band called “Dr. Mark and the Sutures”.