JULY 2009

Julie Sorg, R.N., M.S.N., and student Arturo Medina

High School Students Learn About Healthcare Careers at UCLA

Through King/Drew high school’s Medicine and Science Careers Program, students have the opportunity to shadow and assist UCLA physicians and nurses.

As a junior in King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, 17-year-old Arturo Medina was one of 13 students who spent a half day each week during the past academic year learning about careers in medicine at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Arturo and other students had the opportunity to shadow and assist UCLA physicians and nurses; perform general tasks, such as preparing and escorting patients to examination rooms; work on clinical and lab-based research projects; and receive mentoring regarding the advantages and disadvantages of specific healthcare career choices.

This year, students worked in areas including the emergency department, intensive care unit, outpatient surgery unit, pediatrics unit, various nursing units and the cardiac rehabilitation clinic. Arturo says his experience gave him a new perspective on the doctor-patient relationship. “I shadowed doctors and saw what they did to the patients and what they asked them,” Arturo explains. “After the doctor would leave, I would ask patients how they dealt with the symptoms, how they felt, and how their lives changed after finding out about their diagnosis.”

King/Drew participants and UCLA staff.

The program is an excellent recruitment tool as well as a way to reach out to the community, according to Salpy Akaragian, R.N.-B.C., M.N., F.I.A.N., who launched the program in the early 1990s, and Julie Sorg, R.N., M.S.N., who currently coordinates the program at UCLA. “These students, who have healthcare career ambitions, develop connections with UCLA employees while getting exposure to a world-class medical center,” Salpy says. “It’s a great opportunity for the students to experience the healthcare delivery system first-hand and for UCLA to nurture our future healthcare workforce.” She adds that the program also helps improve the students’ communication, problem-solving, time-management and goal-setting skills.

For Arturo, working with Julie in the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Clinic made a big impression. “Julie opened my mind and made me confident and comfortable talking to people and asking questions,” Arturo says. “Now I feel that anything is possible.”

Arturo and his classmates graduated from this year’s program on June 3 and received a graduation certificate for their efforts from Heidi Crooks, chief nursing officer.