School of Health Sciences Receives State Education Grant to Support Health Professions Summer Academy for High School Students


Offered in-person for the second year in a row, the University’s Health Professions Summer Academy will provide high school students with exciting and immersive opportunities to explore a variety of health professions. Organizers hope this will encourage more young people to pursue a career in a field that needs new talent and a myriad of career opportunities.

July 12, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

As part of the program, students will earn their certification in CPR.

In the summer of 2020, Samantha Morales ’18 MHA helped launch a program to introduce high school students to possible healthcare careers. Launched virtually at the height of the pandemic, the program has been a resounding success. She looks forward to hosting the program again this summer – in person for the second year in a row.

One of many immersive summer programs for young people at the University, the Health Professions Summer Academy will offer students entering grades 10-12 in the upcoming academic year the opportunity to explore a variety of areas in the field of health, such as nutrition and dietetics, dental hygiene and paramedicine. . They will participate in a variety of hands-on activities, including a “make friends, spread germs” disease spread simulation that will help them understand and appreciate the importance of the work of public health professionals.

“This will give students a public health experience by learning about germs safely while following COVID guidelines,” says Professor Morales, internship coordinator for the University’s School of Health Sciences and director by interim of the master’s program in health care administration. “They will learn what the spread of the disease looks like and contextualize it with what we have seen with COVID.”

Dental Hygiene Students
Students will gain hands-on experience during the week-long program.
“Focus on healthy eating”

Students will also delve into the meaning of health buzzwords such as “self-care” by practicing goat yoga at Nadeau Farm in Hamden, Connecticut, and “person-centered care.” during a visit to Griffin Hospital. There, they will participate in a person-centered care scavenger hunt during which they will learn how the hospital strives to provide patient-centered care through amenities such as a community garden and library. medical with information provided for free, as well as the redesign of the hospital which aimed to give the space a therapeutic and non-clinical feel.

As part of the week-long program offered July 18-22, students will also learn from the University of New Haven School of Health Sciences and earn three college credits. They will design and implement their own fitness programs; learn how to take blood and urine samples and assess the bacteria they contain; and learn to clean teeth. They will also learn how to administer anesthetic using fruit, and they will explore the different phases of speech, learning how speech is acquired and how food plays a vital role in speech development. They will also participate in a hands-on nutrition and cooking demonstration.

“It will focus on healthy eating and how to prepare healthy, inexpensive meals,” says Professor Morales. “This is especially important in this time of inflation, as knowing how to shop and choosing healthy foods is essential.”

“Rebuilding the Health Industry”
Dental Hygiene Students
Students learn dental hygiene as part of the program.

This year’s program will, for the first time, allow students to obtain their Mental Health First Aid certification. This will teach them to navigate situations in which their loved ones and peers might be struggling, including how to identify red flags and raise awareness of the importance of mental health while developing the skills to offer support. help and support for a person in crisis.

Students will also earn certification in CPR, which sets the academy apart from most other youth medical summer programs in Connecticut.

Prof Morales says the academy is particularly critical as the healthcare field has experienced a shortage of staff since the start of the pandemic. There is a need for personnel in all areas of health, and she hopes the program will encourage more young people to explore careers in the field.

“It’s important to recruit students to rebuild the healthcare industry because we’re losing so many people,” she said. “This is the main reason why the program is so important, especially for the local community. Local providers such as Yale New Haven Health are hiring traveling nurses as well as physician assistants, doctors, and technicians, and we want to make sure we’re doing our part to recruit for the health sector because it’s important.

Last year's program participants.
Last year’s program participants.
“He has a lot of potential”

So far, the program has sparked interest in the health field among many participants. More than half of the previous participants are now University of New Haven undergraduates pursuing a health-related degree with an average GPA of 3.26.

After completing last year’s curriculum, program organizers were excited to continue to expand the curriculum and create opportunities for high school students to gain hands-on experience in healthcare. They received a summer enrichment grant of nearly $27,000 from the Connecticut State Department of Education that will cover the cost of attending the program for students in need as well as transportation to and from the university.

“Since the start of the pandemic, healthcare personnel have really struggled to keep pace with demand,” said Karl Minges, Ph.D., MPH, grant co-director and acting dean of the School. health sciences. The summer experience will be part of the solution by educating future health professions students about the opportunities, stability, and impact a career in health care can have on the world.

Professor Morales looks forward to working with students who otherwise might not be able to participate in the program.

“We are reaching out and trying to generate interest in healthcare careers, which is so important,” Prof Morales said. “We hope that with this grant we can reach and include low-income students. I can’t wait to see what impact the program will have on them and what the broader impact of the program will be. We saw he had a lot of potential.


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