Program Aims To Diversify Health Care | WMUK

Program Aims To Diversify Health Care

Dec 14, 2020

2014 file photo of students from the WMU Homer Stryker MD Medical School at a mock disaster exercise
Credit Andy Robins / WMUK

A new program hopes to interest high school students from under-served communities in careers in health care.

The project will pair students at four schools in Kent and Newaygo counties with mentors who are undergraduates at Western Michigan University at Grand Valley State University.

Lisa Brennan is the head of the Western Regional Health Education Center based at Western Michigan University's College of Health and Human Services, which is running the project. She says the ninth and tenth graders involved in the Health Careers Pipeline Program will get experiences they might not otherwise have.

"They'll do hands-on activities that expose them to actual activities that health and human service providers would be doing in their day-to-day job."

Brennan says the program will go beyond recruiting future doctors and nurses.

"We are going to have them look at what social workers do in a medical setting; speech language audiology, so our hearing science specialists; public health professionals."

Students will also get experience working with programs helping people with vision issues.

Brennan says will involve students at Innovatio Central and Ottawa Hills High School in Kent County as well as White Cloud High School and Hesperia High School in Newaygo County.

"We're looking at students of color, and we're looking a students who are living with physical disabilities. We're looking at students who are in our rural areas, and even the suburban-urban areas, where their high schools might not have access to exposing them to different activities beyond the classroom."

The program is a five-year partnership with Michigan State University's medical school and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids.