New School of Medicine initiative helps high school students

Oct. 30, 2013 - The Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine is helping students across Connecticut determine their future career in the health care field through the development of a health career pipeline initiative, one component of which is establishing Health Professions Clubs for high school students.

The first Health Professions Club meeting was held on Oct. 29 at Hamden High School. Gabbriel Simone, program coordinator of health career pathways at the School of Medicine, led a group of 16 students through a series of tests and exercises that emphasized the different types of health professions and helped students identify their goals for the future.

After Simone distributed a health career pre-test around the classroom, Hamden High junior EJ Neri raised his hand. "What's a DO [doctor of osteopathic medicine]?" he said.

"That's why we're taking the test," said Simone, smiling. "It's okay if you don't know the answers, that's why we're here."

To join the club, high school students currently enrolled in targeted schools must write an essay demonstrating an interest in becoming a member. In return, club members receive career development support, invitations to information sessions on the college application process and visits to the University's Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. A maximum of 20 students are accepted from each school.

Each club member will also be assigned a Quinnipiac pre-medical studies undergraduate student to act as a mentor as they complete high school.

Charles Collier, assistant dean of health career pathways at the School of Medicine, said he hopes to reach a total of 150 high school students in the New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford areas through the club initiative. "The Health Professions Club is a vehicle through which we can mentor, guide and direct students to a health profession," he said.

Besides Hamden High School, other schools currently participating in the program include: New Haven Academy and Hill Regional Career High School in New Haven, Hyde Leadership School in Hamden and Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport. The Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT), a New Haven-based post-secondary career training facility, is also a participant.

"The more exposure my students get, the more information and tools they have to choose their health career," said Elaine Edwards, a Hamden High School teacher. "This program is a great bridge between high school and post-secondary education."

Monsurat Mimiko, a junior at Hamden High School, said she wants to find the right field in pediatrics that emphasizes interaction with patients. "I want to be more certain of what I want to do," she said. "And I have a ton of questions for my mentor already."