Like many 15-year-old boys who grew up on the Westside, Vito Palazzo likes to ride dirt bikes, hunt, and practice suturing techniques on simulated human skin.
"Working with bones and power tools is like carpentry almost," the aspiring orthopedic surgeon said.
Vito, a Dos Palos High School soon-to-be sophomore, spent 10 days at the University of California at Berkeley getting hands-on medical experience during the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine.
Vito, who attended Volta Elementary in Los Banos, said a number of doctors shared their stories daily. He also watched surgery live via a closed- circuit feed, and trained in stitching wounds and determining priority in a faux triage hospital.
"They had people lying around," Vito said. "We had a triage team, (and) had to go in their and save everybody."
Vito and his fellow students watched a knee replacement, gastric bypass and gastric banding in prog- ress 70 miles away at the University of California at Davis. "It was happening live; we could talk to the surgeons," he said. "It was cool."