Junior and senior high school students interested in careers in medicine, dentistry, or the biological sciences are taking part in an eight-week program designed to encourage that interest.
Now in its 10th year, High School Mini Medical/Dental School includes weekly two-hour lectures and demonstrations by faculty from the UConn schools
of medicine and dental medicine.
“Students attending the program have already expressed an interest in a health-related career,” says Dr. Marja Hurley, associate dean and director of the Office of Health Career Opportunity Programs that sponsors the course.
“What we strive to do is nurture and expand that interest.”
The students learn about such topics as emergency psychiatry, pharmacology, molecular disease, immunology, neurology, cancer, and forensic dental medicine.
“Most of the students may not know the details of these professions,” says Dr. Sarita Arteaga in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation, who lectures on dental reconstructive options.
“These types of lectures will help them make future decisions. This age group has an interest, and the
program helps them stay focused on their goals.”
Victor Gonzalez, a student at the Arts Magnet School in Waterbury, says he loved the program.
“I’d like to be a cardiologist,” he says.
“I was iffy before.”
Farmington High School student Ali Uzpurvis says the lectures were so interesting, she’s now at a loss.
“After all these classes it’s even harder to choose. They didn’t narrow down my choices, but made them wider.”
Dr. David Papermaster of the Department of Neuroscience, who talked about his research related to blindness, says students appreciate seeing the relevance of their science education in high school to the advances in medical research.
| Students, from left, Ali Uzpurvis of Farmington High School, and Shaina Mitchell and Leanne Farley of the Waterbury Magnet Arts School, chat with Dr. Sarita Arteaga during the Health Center’s High School Mini Medical School.
|Photo by Frank Barton
“Their questions indicate that they are exposed in class and at home to people with medical issues, and they are curious and attracted to medical and para-medical careers because of that experience,” he says.
Of the 72 students in the program, 60 attend at the Health Center.
These students are drawn from Avon, Bristol, Farmington, Glastonbury, Simsbury, Tolland, and Windsor high schools; Watkinson School, Weaver High School, and University High School of Science and Engineering in Hartford; Waterbury Magnet Arts School and Kennedy High School in Waterbury; and Hall High School in West Hartford.
The other 12 participate in the program at Bulkeley High School in Hartford via live webcast.
“Mini-medical puts these students in contact with professionals who can give them first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to do what we do, pique their interest, and encourage them to pursue their career aspirations,” says Dr. Virginia Hofmann, director of Emergency Psychiatry and the
Crisis Center, who talks about
the science involved in drug abuse and addiction.
Participants are selected by guidance counselors and science teachers to attend the program.
They will be awarded diplomas at a reception on April 26.