MURRAY – It’s probably fair to say that most 16-year-olds don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Even fewer would make the effort to travel to the other side of the globe to study their chosen field.
Dylan McCallon, on the other hand, is much more passionate about a career in medicine than most teenagers would be.
McCallon is the son of Melanie McCallon Seib and Dale McCallon and is currently a sophomore at Murray High School. This summer, he will be participating in an overseas study program for American high school students called FutureDocs Abroad.
“I am going to Vietnam for two weeks to study at a medical school, and I will be going to a local hospital every day to shadow medical professionals in multiple different fields of medicine to see what it’s like and get an idea of which field I like the most,” McCallon said. “It’s a much different experience than anything that’s offered for high schoolers in the States.”
McCallon said signing up for the trip came about because of his involvement with the National Academy of Future Medical Leaders and Physicians. Toward the end of March, he attended a virtual NAFML conference called the Congress of Future Medical Leaders and found it very educational.
“It was a weekend where all these medical professionals came and spoke to you, and it was great and a very beneficial learning experience for me,” he said. “It was very interesting to hear what they had to say.”
Melanie said an anonymous teacher at MHS nominated Dylan to participate in the conference.
“It was really great … he would come out (of his room) during breaks and say, ‘You would not believe who we just heard,’” Melanie said. “And then he would tell me about a Nobel Prize winner (Mario Capecchi) who discovered gene targeting.”
Dylan said he is very excited for the upcoming trip, which is scheduled for July. He said he has been interested in a career in medicine for quite a while.
“When I was younger, (the medical field) always interested me,” Dylan said. “I guess I was just naturally drawn to it for some reason. Part of me later on thought, ‘No, that’s way too hard for me to go into, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that.’ But then when I got invited to (the NAFML conference), it made me rethink it and I decided that this was going to be a great opportunity. I think it will be a great idea for me to go (on this trip). The medical field is something that really interests me because I’m always wanting to help people in any way that I can.”
Melanie said she first noticed Dylan’s interest in medicine through sports.
“Where I first noticed it as a parent was when he started talking about sports medicine,” she said. “He played soccer for Murray High and he’s played for years and years through Bee Creek and Revolution and on the middle school team, and he started to get interested in sports medicine. Now it’s just sort of developed … because there’s so many interesting fields (within medicine).”
Dylan talked about his expectations for the Vietnam trip, based on what he has read and heard from others who have already gone.
“I know that each day, you’ll be able to go see a different field of medicine that you want to,” he said. “For example, one day I could go see a live surgery over somebody’s shoulder. Some people that talked about going on it delivered a baby, so the next day, I could go to an OBGYN and see that. Or one day I could work on a cadaver and do gross anatomy. It all varies based on what you want to do. There’s only 100 students who get to go (on each trip), so I think it’s very open to what you want to do.”
“We’ll all stay at the same place, but then in the mornings when we get up, I think we’ll get assigned to groups of 5-10 and then go off to see whatever field of medicine we want to see for that day.”
“It was interesting when there was a session they had of student alums who did the program,” Melanie said. “Hearing them was really helpful to me as a parent, and to Dylan also, to hear these students talk about how eye-opening it was for them. Some said they observed surgery and realized they did not want to be a surgeon. One woman who attended a program delivered multiple babies in one day, and so she realized she wanted to go into pediatrics. It was really interesting just hearing the clarity of the students after they had participated as high schoolers. To (see that they) have that much direction at that point (in their lives) was really awesome.”
“I’m excited and proud for Dylan for taking such a large step,” Dale McCallon said. “Regardless if he does or doesn’t pursue a career in the medical field, an experience like this will teach him so many other things about the world. He’s already experienced so much travel and culture at his age, but this will be his first solo adventure and I’m sure his eyes will be opened even more.”