Oct 31, 2012 10:00 AM

Author: Marissa Villasenor


It’s an opportunity most high school kids never experience—getting outside the classroom and working side-by-side with medical students. But 40 local teens took their futures in their own hands and spent their summer with University of Utah medical students. The future doctors expanded their horizons by participating in the School of Medicine’s Advancing Youth in Medical Education program. The diverse group of students who were selected to participate represent juniors and seniors from 12 different Salt Lake Valley high schools that are passionate about pursuing careers in medicine and health sciences.

The 6-week program gathers enthusiastic high school students who are hoping to get a head start on their medical careers. Sponsored by the School of Medicine’s Office of Inclusion and Outreach, the future doctors dedicated four hours each Saturday throughout the summer shadowing medical students. Through the course of the program students engaged in pharmacology, the pathology of the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal and immune systems, anatomy, physiology and musculoskeletal system.

Each student was selected based on a personal essay explaining why he or she plans to purse a career in medicine.

With the guidance of Inclusion and Outreach director, Melanie Hooten and program coordinator Chris Harris, third year medical student Morgan Hawkins launched the program this past summer as a way to reach out and engage with future medical students. Morgan and five of her peers took on the assignment of mentoring the 40 scholars. At the end of the program, each student was given the opportunity to share what they learned in a presentation for family, mentors, and staff at the School of Medicine. Evelyn V. Gopez M.D., Associate Vice President for Health Sciences Inclusion, presented each participant with a certificate at a luncheon where each was honored.

The program is an important goal for the Office of Inclusion and Outreach. Diversity of ideas is a priority for the office. From partnering with neighborhood schools to operating free neighborhood health clinics, the staff strives to highlight and engage the vibrant part of our surrounding community. At the end of the summer, program mentors and the Office of Inclusion and Outreach decided the program was such a success they, it will now be offered yearly.

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