Location: Kansas City, Kansas
Outreach Dept: AHEC
Program: Teacher Summer Externship
With a goal of interesting more students in health care careers, a pilot program for high school health science cluster teachers initiated this summer will be expanded next year to other areas of the state.
Because of their proximity to the KU Medical Center, the first teacher participants were from Kansas City, but plans are for the program to be expanded next summer to include teachers from the 30 Kansas school districts that offer the health science cluster, according to Jen Dolson, senior coordinator for health career promotion for KUMC’s Area Health Education Centers (AHECs).
In the past five years, the statewide AHECs have broadened their focus to include the promotion of careers in the health care field across the state, according to Dolson. Key partners in the effort are Kansas high schools that offer the Health Science Career Cluster, which identifies pathways from high school to college and graduate school and to the workplace.
Recently, the Kansas State Department of Education introduced a new approval process that requires health care cluster teachers to obtain 200 contact hours in the industry over a three-year period. Dolson said the AHECs and KUMC saw an opportunity to help teachers meet the requirement. The result was a pilot program that brought teachers to the KUMC campus to learn about health care career training programs and health care fields.
“We feel this requirement may be challenging to many of our rural high schools with health science career cluster education,” Dolson said. “We are hoping to expand the program to where we can bring teachers in from all parts of the state.”
In summer 2009, key individuals at KUMC, in particular the School of Medicine’s Pre-Matriculation Program, and Gwendolyn Swoope, executive director of the office of cultural enhancement and diversity, and three health science teachers from the Kansas City, Kan., school district created a pilot program. It is designed to increase understanding of the academic preparation and the admission requirements necessary for health profession programs.
The teachers in the pilot program received 60 contact hours during June by attending lectures and labs; meeting with recruiters and advisers for the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing and the School of Allied Health; exploring biomechanics and bioengineering in the Orthopedic Research Center; and touring the brain imaging center, diabetes research lab, radiology department and other areas of KUMC.