USC Keck School of Medicine has partnered with Orthopaedic Medical Magnet High School over the last three years to implement the Health Career Academy program. Under the guidance of Dr. Henri Ford, Dr. Joyce Richey, Assistant Dean for Educational Affairs at USC-Keck, is the faculty sponsor of the program at USC.
Approximately 70 high school students have participated in the 10th grade program thus far. Medical students served as mentors for the high school students and utilized the validated Health Career Academy program to go to the high school and teach high school students about health careers and how to think through medical cases. Supported by their mentors, high school students prepared sophisticated presentations on health topics of their choosing and presented these at the medical school. This past year, the topics included Turner syndrome, lung cancer, PTSD, depression, and diabetes.
Additionally, high school students were invited to USC-Keck School of Medicine to hear medical professionals lecture about health topics and talk about their careers in medicine. High school students also experienced anatomy labs and surgical simulations. For example, a team of cardiothoracic surgical residents demonstrated a live porcine heart beating and took the students through a virtual cardiothoracic surgery procedure; medical residents demonstrated how to set up a central line, do a lumbar puncture, and thoracentesis; high school students participated in suturing stations learning about basic, vascular, and bowel sutures; and surgeons demonstrated the fundamentals of laparoscopic surgery using several different simulators.
Given the success of the Health Career Academy program, USC-Keck School of Medicine would like to expand the program to include a partnership with additional high schools. Dorsey High School, a local high school serving a 99% minority population with a graduation rate of 70%, has expressed interest in participation. Additionally, USC-Keck aims to build the Health Career Academy program by including the 11th and 12th grade curricula on public health and community health. With this expansion, the high school students will experience a three-year pipeline to support them to graduate from high school and pursue meaningful post-secondary education.