Training the Next Generation
Northwestern Memorial program offers high school students an advance look at healthcare careers
When high school senior Alex Yaylayan closes his math and science books for the weekend, his education continues. Yaylayan, along with 31 other high school students are taking part in Medical Explorers, a program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital which offers Chicago-area teens an early look at careers in healthcare. The program participants meet one Saturday a month and participate in a variety of activities such as hands-on workshops, hospital tours and one-on-one meetings with healthcare professionals including physicians and hospital leadership.
“Because of Medical Explorers, I plan to pursue a career in medicine when I go to college next year,” said Yaylayan, who has participated in the program for the past three years.
The Explorers are selected from a number of applicants and are offered a unique, hands-on opportunity that exposes them to a variety of career paths including physicians, nurses and pharmacists, as well as careers in healthcare business administration, financial management, health law and biomedical engineering. In addition to career exposure, the program emphasizes life skills, service learning, character development and leadership. Medical Explorers mentors also help students navigate the college application and financial aid application process.
“As an academic medical center, it’s our responsibility to educate future healthcare professionals,” said Posh Charles, director of community services at Northwestern Memorial. “Through programs like Medical Explorers, which is fun and academic oriented, we can help expose kids to a variety of career paths early on to help them set future goals.”
LaToya Fountain, a laboratory technician at Northwestern Memorial participated in Medical Explorers 12 years ago as a high school student and attributes much of her career successes to the program. “I wouldn’t have known about this line of work or this job opportunity without being a Medical Explorer,” said Fountain. “The program opened my eyes to a career in medicine and has gotten me where I am today.”
The Medical Explorers began their activities last month with a kick-off meeting and an introduction to navigating the college process. As their sessions start, the students will participate in community service activities allowing them to give back to their communities. The Explorers will then observe a surgery, receive tips for writing a resume and interviewing for a job and explore careers in medicine and nursing, allied health, IT, public health and business administration.
“This is really cool to be a part of,” said Yaylayan. “I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned from this program.”
For more information about the Medical Explorers program visit http://www.nmh.org/nm/careers-Medical-Explorers or call 312-926-2301.