Local high school students interested in pursuing healthcare careers are getting more than a blackboard’s glance at the industry thanks to a special, two-weekend opportunity being held at East Wake High.
A Wake Area Health Education Center mini-medical school is engaging 24 students from East Wake and Rolesville in hands-on experience. It is the first time the Raleigh-based group has held a mini-medical school at a Wake County site in the 10 years it has sponsored the series.
Wake AHEC offers a variety of health-related educational opportunities and services to a nine-county region including Wake, but its mini-medical school was limited to Franklin, Granville and Johnston counties until this year.
Katie Coble, first-year career development coordinator at East Wake, became a fan of the program during her previous four years at Corinth Holders High and got Wake AHEC on board to bring the experience across the county line.
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“They had such impressive feedback from students (at Corinth Holders) and other students from Wake County who came to the program there, it just stuck with me,” Coble said. “It was very successful and was something I wanted to bring to East Wake when I came here.”
The program runs two weekends, with a weekend off in between, with sessions Friday from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The first weekend at East Wake was Feb. 26-27, and it concludes March 11-12. Another program at Corinth Holders also began last weekend.
Students left wanting more
The mini-medical school is led by medical professionals assigned by Wake AHEC, which is is affiliated with the N.C. Area Health Education Centers programs at the UNC School of Medicine. Students – typically juniors and seniors but some sophomores – apply to participate and are selected based on various criteria, including GPA and the types of courses they have completed in school.
Participants get to try their hand a dissecting animals that were donated for medical research, building models in studying biochemistry, and using technology and case studies to learn more about a variety of medical fields.
Coble said some of the students in the East Wake program didn’t want the action to end after getting a taste of it on the first weekend.
“The students were actually asking to stay later,” she said. “We had students saying they wanted to stay here until 11 p.m. They’ve reported it was life-changing for some of them. There’s technology, there’s hands-on sessions, there’s specialized software for the program – it’s not just lecturing.”
The program also emphasizes critical thinking, which Coble said flows in with Wake School’s “4 Cs” goal for students, which includes collaboration, creativity and communication skills.
The program costs $50 per student, an expense offset for a few current participants by $25 scholarships provided by East Wake’s HOSA Club.
Wake AHEC supplies all necessary materials for the program, even catered meals, and the participants receive embroidered lab coats. Those who attend all four sessions will also earn a certificate of completion – a handy resume entry.
Coble is hoping to rally more financial support for a second run of the program at East Wake that is tentatively set for late October.
“The (East Wake) administration was extremely supportive of this effort and we feel very fortunate to have had it brought to our school,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for students who have an interest in the medical field.
“I’m excited because I think this is something that might be popping up in other (Wake) schools. Or maybe not – maybe it will become an East Wake thing and I would be just as excited about that.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation to support students in the mini-medical school program at East Wake can contact Coble at 919-365-2650.