Kansas Locations: Garden City
Community Engagement Dept.: AHEC
Program: Women in Health Care: The Next Generation
Twelve young women with health-related career aspirations took part in a unique University of Kansas Medical Center leadership program that allowed them to step inside the vast world of health care.
The students were on campus Nov. 6-8, 2013, as part of Women in Health Care: The Next Generation. The program selects high school junior and senior women from across the state with strong interests and commitment to health care careers, and provides them with the opportunity to interact with health professions students and faculty at KU Medical Center.
This event is designed to encourage more women to become leaders in health care, said Mary Beth Warren, director of KU Medical Center's Area Health Education Center (AHEC), which created the event.
"With so few health care providers in most parts of the state, this program is a unique opportunity for young women to interface with a concentrated group of leaders and role models, many of whom are women," Warren said. "Through this event, we also want to inspire the best and the brightest to excel in whatever health field they eventually choose."
The group attended classes with KU Medical Center student representatives from the KU Women in Medicine and Science (WIMS) chapter.
"We were very fortunate to have such wonderful support from WIMS this year," Warren said. "And I cannot thank the WIMS students who devoted so much of their time to helping with this event enough. They were excellent role models for these young women."
Spending time with the campus student representatives and attending classes helped students like Becca Brittain of Goddard, Kan. better understand what to expect in medical school.
"This program helped me to see what the life of a med student is actually like," said the student at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Wichita. "It also helped me to understand that med school is possible with lots of hard work."
Several high school students said they were amazed at the amount of research involved in health care. While on campus, the group visited a variety of research labs, including orthopedic and exercise and cardiac health.
"I learned that research is a huge part of any health care career," said Cheyenne Ortner, a student at Goodland High School. "I did not realize how many opportunities there are to learn."
For Pleasanton High School student Amanda Parker, the hands-on human anatomy lesson was a memorable learning experience.
"The anatomy section interested me the most," she said. "I enjoyed getting to handle and learn more about the human body. This was an awesome experience that I would never take back."
The group also visited the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center, which peaked Chaitali Marwaha's interest.
"Something I learned in this experience that I didn't know before was about the neurology of the brain volume using MRIs or working or experimenting with rats or mice to understand the similarities and the differences between animals and humans," said the Garden City High School student. "This event made me realize that I can be a physician and a researcher scientist at the same time, as I wish to experience both paths in my life to get a better view about the importance of neurology."
Overall, the high school students said this experience helped her see the variety of health care career options available.
"This event opened my eyes about careers in research that I had never even considered. I was very surprised about the amount of different opportunities for further education and career paths there are," said Olathe East High School student Amanda Sharp.
"I am very thankful for the opportunity to participate in Women in Health Care: The Next Generation," said Anna Sunderland, a student at Sabetha High School. "The information I have gained throughout the course of the program will be very advantageous when making decisions that will shape the path of my future career."
Women in Health Care: The Next Generation is an annual competitive program. Applications, which include an essay, are due in the fall each year. The AHEC is a part of KU Medical Center's Institute for Community Engagement, which works with communities to advance the health of Kansans and beyond.