High School Students Explore Healthcare Careers at GW

The new, two-week GW Pre-College program introduced selected high school students to healthcare career paths.

July 10, 2018

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High school students in the GW Pre-College Careers in Healthcare program learn about the American Red Cross during a site visit. (Photos: Hailey Marie Hartigan)

By Briahnna Brown

Blake Coleman, a rising sophomore at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., has long known that she wanted to be a doctor, but she also knew that she wanted a career that would keep her on her feet.

She was drawn to the new GW Pre-College Careers in Healthcare summer program, taught by faculty and students from the George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences and School of Nursing, because she wanted a chance to explore and experience different fields in healthcare.

Ms. Coleman already was leaning toward becoming a trauma surgeon because she said she would be able to find new solutions to problems every day without focusing on only one part of the body.  But she wanted to experience all possible career options and to figure out whether the trauma surgeon path was really right for her. She said that the program gave her a new perspective on the career possibilities in medicine.

“I think a lot of people kind of have a very streamlined view of what the word doctor means, or what the word healthcare professional means,” Ms. Coleman said. “I definitely think that this program has opened us up to a lot of different experiences.”

Ms. Coleman was one of 27 high school students, a diverse first cohort that includes seven students each from D.C. and Virginia, three from Maryland and one each from China and Colombia, selected for the two-week, interactive medical career and leadership course. Students got a look at possible career pathways through the program, which several students described as “eye opening.”

Students learned from GW physicians, nurses and researchers in the immersive program that also allowed them to earn two college credits. The curriculum included experiential learning about emergency medicine, clinical skills, infection control, teamwork in healthcare and global disaster response.

They had site visits to healthcare organizations such as the American Red Cross and the World Health Organization and also had the opportunity to meet GW students studying to become healthcare professionals and ask them questions about how they learn.

Molly Joyce, a course assistant for the Careers in Healthcare program, said she was impressed by the level of knowledge the students came to the program with and the questions they asked the healthcare professionals they met.

“They know how to ask targeted questions that have impressed every person that they come in contact with,” Ms. Joyce said. “The future of healthcare is in good hands with these kids.”

Omar Saadi, a rising senior at Osbourn Park High School in Manassas, Va., plans on becoming an endocrinologist to take care of others. He knew what his end goal was, but before the program, he was not focused on the path to get there.

Mr. Saadi said that he got a new perspective on what it means to enter a health profession from the various speakers in the program who took different paths to get to where they are today.

“One of my aspiring goals is to actually make a huge dent into the endocrinology community,” Mr. Saadi said. “I want to be able to synthesize new ideas and recreate old ones, so that way it can open people's eyes like mine were opened in this program.”

After dealing with family members who suffered from strokes, Madison Kinard, a rising junior at KIPP DC College Preparatory in Washington, D.C., witnessed the process they underwent to regain their independence. She hopes to become an occupational therapist and help other people in similar circumstances get their lives back.

She added that the program rewarded her with a wealth of knowledge that she appreciated the opportunity to receive.

“I would say this program is a life-changing experience,” Ms. Kinard said. “People are coming from all over and they don't know what they want to be, but after this program you’re going to know what you want to be in the medical field.”