Medical Missions Productions Give Students Professional Experience

Photo: Mike Peters

Floor manager Manny Fuentes gives a cue on the set of a Medical Missions production.

Last year, Montclair State University entered into an agreement with Medical Missions for Children, host of a global telemedicine and teaching network, to house the Medical Missions Global Video Library of Medicine, a video library with more than 25,000 hours of world-class medical education programming. Montclair’s relationship with Medical Missions does not end with the agreement, however, as the DuMont Television Center is also being used to produce broadcast programming for Medical Missions.

Medical Missions, in association with Montclair State, began producing three series of health programs at the Center in 2006: “Tomorrow’s Medicine Today,” “Take Care” and “Plain Talk about Health.” Jeff Friedman ’78, the director of the DuMont Television Center—and recent recipient of a thirteenth Emmy Award—is the series director and production manager for the shows. Together with Montclair colleague and coordinating producer, Patricia Piroh, he has introduced a unique aspect to the productions: Montclair broadcasting program students and alumni are hired as members of the technical crews that create the shows.

One of those hired, alumnus Ray Santiago ’06, has worked as the teleprompter for many of the Medical Missions shows. He says that the Broadcasting Department and his work on the shows gave him the confidence to succeed in his career with a professional production company. Working on the shows has taught senior Kristine Bates a lot about professionalism. “The Medical Missions productions have helped me better my people and professional skills further than any classroom setting,” she says.

While internships with production companies may be relatively common for students studying broadcasting, actual work on a commercial production as a member of a professional technical crew is something few undergraduate students have the opportunity to experience. Sophomore Bob Rowe is glad to have that chance. “I can safely say that the hands-on experience you get from working on these programs without a doubt helps you improve on your skills because you actually get to use them in a ‘real world’ situation,” he says.

Junior Manny Fuentes is the floor manager. “I’m responsible for giving cues and time cues to talent,” he says. “I act as the director’s voice in the studio.” When asked if his training in the broadcast program has helped him in his work on the Medical Missions shows he says, “Absolutely. Without taking the classes provided at the DuMont T.V. Center, we would all be lost during the actual broadcasts.”

Producing the Medical Missions shows at Montclair has strengthened the relationship between the two organizations and has provided an exceptional learning experience for students. Friedman does not know of any other college or university in the region that does something similar and is justifiably proud of the venture and of the students and alumni involved. “This is an extremely important initiative for the University,” he says. “And I enjoy working with Medical Missions to make all three series happen.”