High School Students See Career Possibilities at UAMS
April 1, 2013 | A future Arkansas doctor, nurse or allied health professional may have had their first chance to see an academic medical center on a recent Saturday when the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) hosted more than 120 high school students.
The Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP) event March 2 drew students from across central Arkansas to the UAMS campus for a day of presentations and tours. The program, sponsored by the local Edith Irby Jones Chapter of the Student National Medical Association and the UAMS Center for Diversity Affairs, is focused on connecting with students — especially those from underrepresented minority groups — and showing them career possibilities in science and health care.
“We want to identify those students early and follow them through college, beginning the recruiting process we hope will lead to UAMS and a career in the health professions,” said Billy Thomas, M.D., vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and director of the Center for Diversity Affairs.
The College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, College of Health Professions, Fay Boozman College of Public Health and the Graduate School were all represented by faculty members, students and recruiters. Each college gave an introductory overview of their school and the kinds of skills needed for each.
The students then toured areas of the UAMS campus, including the simulation center, gross anatomy lab, clinical skills center and sites that offered some hands-on activities.
“It’s a neat way to expose these students to the options that are available to them,” said Pat Edgerson, director of outreach in the Center for Diversity Affairs. “They really enjoyed the clinical skills and gross anatomy labs, where they got to take vital signs from each other.”
More than 30 students from all of the UAMS colleges volunteered to guide and serve as a readily available source of information during multiple small group sessions that were implemented throughout the program.
“I think the event was a great success and that the student volunteers really came together to give the high school students a memorable introduction to health professions,” said second-year medical student Desiree Burroughs-Ray, who helped coordinate the student volunteers.
Saira Shervani, a first-year medical student, volunteered as a tour guide, said she was happy to answer questions from the high school students and hopefully help the students see the career possibilities ahead of them.
“It was great that the students could ask questions and talk to students from all of the UAMS colleges and graduate school,” Shervani said. “I think it’s extremely motivating to see the next stage of what you are working toward, and I think that’s part of why programs like this are so important — they remind you why it’s worth it to spend that time working hard and making sacrifices, because ultimately you will be in a position where you can do something you’re passionate about and where you can really help people and make a difference.”
Thomas said the event is part of a coordinated and aggressive campaign to reach out to students with the aptitude and interest in the health professions. Events such as Saturday Science Academies, Summer Science and Health Professions camps and programs teaching test preparation skills are organized throughout the year by the Center for Diversity Affairs for students in grades K-12.
The outreach efforts continue into college with summer enrichment programs, undergraduate research programs and more test preparation courses.