Ethan Shields’ intellect and longtime interest in science earned him a seat at the three-day Congress of Future Medical Leaders program.
Held in Washington D.C. last month, Shields was one of 3,000 high school honor students chosen from across the country who have an interest in becoming medical scientists or physicians.
“There was an incredible collection of minds that came together for the sole purpose of mentoring the scholars, and each speaker shared his or her personal story of success and failure,” Shields said.
“They were scientists, physicians, patients, student prodigies, and life coaches. Scholars observed a live surgery and interacted with the surgeon as the surgery was in process,” he added.
Among the topics discussed were stem cell research, fertility, endoscopy and face transplant procedures. In attendance were J. Craig Venter, PH.D., a leading scientist in human genomics and U.S. Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, MD, M.P.H.
Shields is a sophomore at Wheeler High School in Union Township and plans to study medical science with a concentration in psychiatry and music.
“I am intrigued by the emotional and physical influence sound has on the human brain. My ideal career would involve research on the parts of the brain responsible for emotions,” he said.
“I would like to utilize the findings to provide comfort for patients through sound and music.”
Shields received his first look at the medical field at his father’s dental practice, Shields Dental Center in DeMotte.
“From a really young age I enjoyed being with my dad, and he always made me feel like I was part of the dental team,” Shields said. “When I was in preschool, my job was to hand the patients their free toothbrushes at the end of their appointment. It made me feel important, and it always brought a smile to the patient's face.”
“Being in the dental environment my whole life has made me more comfortable interacting with patients and has given me confidence to pursue possibilities of my own,” he added.
The son of Brian and Jennifer Shields, of Valparaiso, Shields enjoys playing guitar, wakeboarding and water skiing. He is a member of the Key Club at Wheeler High School and operates the sound system for the drama department.