Health Careers Institute for High School Students Encourages Interactive Exploration

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August 04, 2023 | Glendale, AZ

Inspiring the next generation of healthcare professionals takes teamwork and interdepartmental collaboration - a core pillar of Midwestern University’s One Health philosophy. Thanks to generous funding from the BHHS Legacy Foundation, the Midwestern University Glendale Campus held the 25th annual Health Careers Institute for High School Students from July 13-22.  This year, the program hosted 64 high school students from all over the state of Arizona, who participated in advanced workshops in anatomy and clinical skills, connected with faculty and students in more than 23 healthcare-related fields, and received mentorship on how to prepare for college and the possibility of a future career in healthcare.

The goal of the Health Careers Institute for High School Students is to expose them to different fields in healthcare, as well as to foster an environment of professionalism and connection, and to encourage their curiosity about healthcare as a whole. One way this is accomplished is by separating the 64 students into small groups and assigning two MWU student mentors to be with them throughout the entire program. This year, 18 MWU students from the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (AZCOM), College of Dental Medicine – Arizona (CDMA), and the Arizona College of Optometry (AZCOPT) were selected for this important role.

“Being able to share knowledge and experiences with high school students who are exploring their career options in healthcare is an amazing way to give back,” said CDMA student mentor Loveleen Kaur (CDMA ’26). “The prospect of shaping their futures, witnessing their curiosity, and helping them discover their path while being a guiding light, was a privilege for me.”

Ms. Kaur herself was a beneficiary of Midwestern’s high school programs in the past. “One of the most exciting days of my high school biology class was the Health Sciences Career Day at Midwestern. I remember all of the enthusiasm and joy that surrounded the day and the hands-on exposure and immersion in various health careers, and just how transformative such experiences were for me. Now that I am a dental student at Midwestern, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be a mentor.”

AZCOM student mentor Ariel Krahn (AZCOM ’26) shared a similar passion for the program. “I volunteered because this is exactly the sort of program I wish I had access to when I was in their shoes. Seeing the students learn about career options that I would never have even considered makes me optimistic for their futures. I'm so glad I could be a part of it.”

Over the course of the eight-day program, the high school students bonded with each other through icebreaker games and worked in teams to study and prepare for academic-based challenges such as the Bone Contest. The MWU mentors spent time each morning helping the students learn medical terminology that was applicable to the day’s workshops. Every day, mentors and students participated in exciting, hands-on activities that exposed them to a variety of different healthcare careers, including emergency medicine, veterinary medicine, speech-language pathology, physical therapy, optometry, nurse anesthesia, graduate-level nursing, and many others. They explored the Midwestern University Clinical Skills and Simulation Center and competed in teams against each other using high-fidelity mannequins to diagnose and treat their patient as a healthcare professional would, all while being surrounded by a life-like medical environment.

“I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Midwestern Health Careers Institute. Not only did I gain essential skills, knowledge, and exposure, but all the mentors and speakers continued to inspire me to achieve my goals and follow my dreams of becoming a doctor,” said participant Maryam Al Qaderi, a rising junior at Xavier Preparatory Academy. “This program has a special place in my heart as it taught me about the multifaceted world of healthcare, including workshops in dentistry, podiatry, veterinary medicine, and pharmacy. Each has a significant role in healthcare, and they all continuously collaborate in order to help all patients. Among all the various workshops, the clinical skills lab stood out to me, as it offered an invaluable glimpse into the life of a doctor.”

In addition to the interactive clinical workshops where students got to use medical equipment such as slit lamps, ultrasound machines, and microscopes, they also participated in other thought-provoking activities that play a role in healthcare, including an ethics in medicine seminar. Students pondered the current state of information flow and how to ethically handle complex situations that healthcare providers face every day. The students further bonded with each other through a brand-new cultural humility workshop. They learned about each other’s cultural origins and participated in an activity that demonstrated how one’s culture, place of birth, geographical location, and family status impact their educational opportunities and access to other resources such as healthcare. This immersive activity highlighted the importance of treating patients with compassion and humility, two key traits all healthcare professionals must have to provide high-quality care.

The high school students came prepared with questions on how to prepare for college, how to find internships and shadowing opportunities, and how to make the most of their time in school. Lunch hours were spent talking with their MWU student mentors about specific topics, such as healthcare careers in the military, how residencies work, and specialties such as anesthesiology and obstetrics/gynecology.

"I arrived at MWU without an idea of what I wanted to become, and without the energy to discover it. However, the hands-on experience workshops made every day an adventure. I found myself waiting and wondering expectantly what the next lab would be. I would say that phlebotomy and suturing were by far the coolest. Thanks to all the mentors and their kindness, and the staff and their involvement, I have come to good terms about my future path in medicine,” said participant Kassandraw Ramirez, a newly graduated student from Cesar Chavez High School. Kassandraw will be attending Arizona State University in the fall as a nursing major.

Midwestern University plans to continue to offer these invaluable experiences that connect high school students with caring faculty and students to encourage them to pursue a career in healthcare. For updates on the 2024 Health Careers Institute for High School Students, please visit: 

To view a recap video of the 2023 Health Careers Institute for High School Students, please visit:

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