Program Offers Students a Head Start on Careers in Medicine
Northwestern partners with Chicago high school to encourage medical and research path
Isa Alverez has dreamed of being a cardiologist since she was a little girl. She remembers the day she learned that her great-grandmother passed away of a heart attack and vowed to become the kind of doctor that would one day be able to help prevent the tragedy from happening to other members of her family. The 15-year old Westinghouse College Prep sophomore is taking the first step to living out her dream as part of the inaugural class of the Northwestern Medicine™ Scholars Program.
Alverez, along with five other talented students from Westinghouse, is participating in a 3-week summer intensive at Northwestern Memorial, as part of the Scholars Program, which encourages them to become physicians and researchers. Through lectures, tours and hand-on learning, the classmates are gaining knowledge that will prepare them for college and medical school. The program spans their high school tenure, with each summer intensive focusing on a specific clinical area. This summer’s intensive focuses on oncology and in partnership with the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Care Center, the students are learning how physicians screen for cancer and what habits increase the risk of developing the disease.
On a tour of the Maggie Daley Center for Women’s Cancer Care, program participants were taught the team-centered approach to taking care of patients. Included was a demonstration of how chemotherapy is mixed prompting enthusiastic comments and questions from Alverez and her classmates.
“The way chemotherapy is made especially for a patient in only 10 minutes was very cool to see,” said Alverez.
The foundation of the program began with the desire of the Chicago Public School to have a unique medical collaboration within their curriculum. Westinghouse wanted an academic medical center to affiliate with that would enable the students to advance their knowledge outside of the classroom.
“The partnership with Westinghouse is a great example of the strength of Northwestern Medicine™,” said Erica E. Marsh, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “It demonstrates what is possible when physicians, researchers, and hospital leadership put all of our insights together to come up with something positive for our Chicago community.”
Northwestern Medicine™ is the shared vision of Northwestern Memorial and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Marsh, who is also an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Feinberg School, co-founded the program with Maria Lin, program director, Human Resources at Northwestern Memorial.
“The Scholars Program gives us a unique opportunity to inspire and lead students to work towards a MD or PhD,” said Lin. “We want to give them a sense of the challenges that will come their way, but also empower them and guide them along that path.”
Kaya Holland, Alverez’s classmate and participant in the program, echoes her friends’ excitement about the opportunity. “My parents are always encouraging me to work hard,” Holland said. “I was really happy I got accepted to the program because I knew it would teach me important lessons I will use when I become a doctor.”
For more information about the Northwestern Medicine ™ Scholars Program at Westinghouse College Prep visit scholars.northwesternmedicine.org or call 312-926-0779.