Pen, watch, and scissors

Pen, watch, and scissors or Penwasciz.

His eyes focus on the person in front of him, his hands clamped together. His mind going back and forth trying to focus. The man before him raises his hand and grabs a cold metal tool from the tray behind him. He prepares himself to see something he has been waiting to see, an open heart surgery. 

Open heart surgery is one of the many medical procedures that you can see in Penwasciz. Penwasciz is a club that allows students to get hands-on medical experience. This club is a program run through Advocate Medical Center. 

Penwasciz members participating in a disaster drill.

Physical education and health teacher Catherine Brennan is the sponsor of the club. Penwasciz, the program, has been going on for sixty years and has recently become an extension of the ouch club here at Carmel.

This program allows students to gain knowledge on how a hospital runs and the different units within it. It helps prepare them for their college courses as well as giving them enough experience to decide if they want to continue in the medical field. Students do small activities like bringing food or water to the patient. Students can also see surgeries and other medical procedures. 

“A lot of students are interested in medicine.” Brennan said, “Medicine is never going away, it is only going to get bigger.” 

To apply to the program the applicant must be a junior or senior, have a 2.5 GPA, attend a 2 hour session each week, and have a sincere interest in medical careers. After being accepted into the program the applicant must be CPR certified. 

This program offers students many opportunities to make a difference in the patients and the doctors lives. 

“The students do little things,” Brennan said “that helps the doctors out in a big way.”

Senior Ethan Haqq applied to Penwasciz his junior year. Haqq witnessed two angiograms, an x-ray of the heart’s blood vessels, and an open heart surgery. Haqq learned many things from his time in Penwasciz. He learned how a hospital ran and the different units within it. He was able to witness the Davinci Robot, a robot that is controlled by the surgeon for a more precise and steady surgery, in action. 

Not only was he able to learn about medical careers but the people within them. He was able to interact with patients and really understand how they were feeling. 

“Penwasciz taught me the value of compassion,” Haqq said, “It made me realize I could make a difference in someone’s life.”