How to Inspire High School Students to Pursue Medical Careers

Released: 11/14/2012 2:40 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Loyola University Health System
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Newswise — MAYWOOD, Ill. - On a recent Thursday, the school day at Proviso Math and Science Academy ended at 11 a.m. to accommodate parent-teacher conferences.

But rather than going home or hanging out with friends, 22 students elected to spend their free afternoon across the street at the Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences campus. The students visited Loyola's anatomy lab; saw a demonstration of "Virtual Vince," a remarkably lifelike patient manikin used to train doctors and nurses; spoke with graduate and medical students; and viewed dozens of research posters that were on display for St. Albert's Day, an annual celebration of health sciences research at Loyola.

"The students were very enthusiastic," said Proviso Math and Science Academy teacher Darlyne Delaney. "It was an inspiration to them."

The event is an example of Loyola's deep and growing involvement with Proviso Township High Schools District 209 and School District 89 Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview. Students and professors from Loyola's medical, nursing and graduate schools are mentoring, tutoring and inspiring Proviso students for future careers in health care and health sciences research.

Here is a sampling of the Loyola-Proviso programs:

Research Mentorship Program. During their senior year, selected Proviso Math and Science Academy students perform research in federally funded Loyola laboratories. In some cases, the student is part of a research team. In other cases, the student performs his or her own research project. The student works under the direction of a Loyola mentor for a minimum of five hours a week, and presents his or her findings at a research event in May. Matt Brown and Darlyne Delaney are the Research Mentorship Faculty Advisors who teach the classroom component at PMSA.

"These students are very high achievers," Ms. Delaney said. "The mentorship program steps it up and gives them a new challenge. Many students are agog when they come back to school and tell about their experience."

PULSE (Proviso United with Loyola Students for Educational Enrichment). Once a month after school, students from Proviso Math and Science Academy who are interested in medical careers come to Loyola to get hands-on experience in medical fields. PULSE matches medical student mentors with Proviso students, and includes workshops, field trips, and discussions.

HPREP (Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program). This five-week, Saturday-morning program helps prepare Proviso East and Proviso West students for health care careers. HPREP is dedicated to alleviating health care disparities by attracting people from disadvantaged backgrounds into health care.

These initiatives are helping students get a head start in pursuing careers in health care and medical research, said Richard Kennedy, PhD, Loyola's Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Programs. "These programs also will help create a future work force in research and health care that is more diverse and creative."


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