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High school students discover career possibilities at health care event

‘Discover KU’s Health Programs’ invited students from Kansas City, Kansas, who would be the first generation in their families to go to college.

A KU student demonstrates respiratory care on a manikin in front of three students
Student Samantha Noel shows high school students how to intubate at the Discover KU's Health Programs event. Noel is a student in the Department of Respiratory Care and Diagnostic Science at the University of Kansas School of Health Professions. Photo by Elissa Monroe, KU Medical Center Photo Services

Intubate a manikin? Check.

Diagnose an injury? Check.

See samples in a Petri dish? Seen.

Use distraction to deal with discomfort? Done.

Students from Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools had a chance to participate in these activities and many more at the Discover KU’s Health Programs event held Oct. 11 at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

A total of 78 students from J.C. Harmon High School, F.L. Schlagle High School and Sumner Academy of Arts and Science were invited to the four-hour event in the Health Education Building. Faculty, staff and students from KU Medical Center offered a peek into their chosen careers by staging scenarios, showcasing equipment and answering questions.

KU Medical Center’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion sponsored the event.

A goal of creating awareness

Alex Lopez, an outreach and recruitment specialist for the University of Kansas School of Health Professions, organized the day of discovery, where students could not only find out about well-known occupations such as nurses and doctors but also lesser-known professions such as health information managers and clinical lab scientists.  

“The goal of the event is to create more awareness of the different KU Medical Center programs among first-generation high school students,” he said.

Jason Edwards, director of premedical programs and outreach for the University of Kansas School of Medicine, said his work group was happy to support Discover KU’s Health Programs. “It was great to see the high school students asking questions and spending time with students from the schools of Health Professions, Nursing and Medicine.”    

Learning in large and small groups

High school students attended breakout sessions in small groups led by either KU Medical Center students, faculty or both. Representatives were on hand from all three schools and multiple departments.

Students also heard from a panel of current KU Medical Center students. They discussed topics such as the university experience, how they chose their majors and how they had the confidence to continue when things got difficult.

“One tactic that I’ve found helpful is to remind myself that my life isn’t 100% school. I find that if I go to school, then come home and do homework and my whole life revolves around that, I get very overwhelmed very easily,” one clinical laboratory sciences student volunteered. “It’s all-around better for your mental health to make sure you schedule in some fun times.”

Reactions on the day

Sherrie, a student at Schlagle, said she thought the day was informative. “It gave me a thought of what I had to do to reach my goal. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do, but I had some idea. Now I know what I have to do,” she said.

Kaylee, a student at Harmon, came to learn about nursing as a career. She said no one in her life worked in a hospital, so “I just wanted to find out what it’s like to work in a hospital.”

As a teacher from Schlagle, LeAnne Richardson said she valued the experience for her students. “It’s good to have the students on campus to hear about health careers,” Richardson said. “They know about some of the more obvious choices, but they don’t see some of these hidden health careers, and it’s great they get to hear about them.”

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