by Cody Sain, Jorge Luis De Avila, and Victoria Oladipo, MS1s
The 15th Annual Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP) was held at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine on consecutive Saturdays from January 12 to February 16, 2019. HPREP had over 90 applications and accepted 45 high school students from over 20 schools on Chicago’s South and West sides. The purpose of HPREP is to expose underrepresented students to a variety of health professions as well as introduce students to skills they will need along their professional journey such as working in teams, performing research, and public speaking.
To ensure our students developed these skills, we placed them in mentored group research projects to investigate one of the top five diseases and health disparities that affect our Chicago South and West sides. After six weeks, they presented their work at the HPREP research symposium in front of their peers, family, and invited guests. Other activities throughout the program included presentations from healthcare professionals from a variety of fields, interactive workshops with physicians and medical students, and weekly mentorship lunches with our Pritzker School of Medicine student volunteers. Below is a recap of each session to share what our students accomplished throughout their time at Pritzker.
- “Why Healthcare?” – Abdullah Pratt, MD (Emergency Medicine Resident and former HPREP student) and Patricia Mack, APN, spoke to the students on their path to medicine and nursing respectively, and obstacles they faced as underrepresented professionals. After, students learned ultrasound and CPR skills at Mitchell Hospital’s Simulation Center.
- “Interprofessional Healthcare” – Students rotated through workshops hosted by a range of professionals including: pharmacy, physical therapy, speech pathology, and dietetics. Then, they took a tour of the University of Chicago Medical Center facilities, led by fourth-year medical students. The day concluded with a conversation about the value of mentorship in healthcare.
- “Public Health, Trauma and Violence” – Edwin McDonald, MD (Gastroenterologist and former HPREP mentor) spoke to the students on nutrition education and the importance of advocacy in their communities. After, they completed “Stop the Bleed” training with Dr. Pratt and performed sheep heart dissections. In the afternoon, students learned to take vitals, listen to heart and lung sounds, and emailed health professional students enrolled in nursing, medicine, MD/PhD, or physical therapy programs to establish mentorship.
- “Diversity in Healthcare” – Students engaged with a panel of HPREP board members and students underrepresented in medicine at Pritzker. After, Tanya Cabrera (Diversity Associate Director for Equity and Inclusion at the University of Illinois at Chicago) spoke to them about navigating their future undergraduate careers as people of color and what resources to look for.
- “HPREP Student Research Symposium” – Invited friends, family and guests learned what their students had accomplished through a Q&A session with the HPREP team. After, Linda Rae Murray, MD, MPH (past President and current Governing Council Speaker for the American Public Health Association) spoke on the importance of understanding health disparities in the context of the Flint, Michigan water crisis. Finally, students presented their work and graciously answered questions about their projects.