The health care field has countless career paths beyond just physicians and nurses; but these other career fields, and how to apply to these educational programs, can sometimes be unknown to high school students or difficult for them to navigate.
Without a mentor or guardian who’s familiar with these health care opportunities or someone who’s acquainted with the application process, it isn’t always easy to figure out the best path to take toward a successful career in health care. That’s why programs like Atrium Health’s Propelling Adolescents Towards Careers in Healthcare (PATCH) are so important.
|“Programs like PATCH encourage students who might not otherwise pursue a medical career by introducing them to individuals with various backgrounds, sometimes similar to what a student may identify with.” – Hisham Qadri, Wake Forest University School of Medicine student|
The mission of PATCH is to provide Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) high school students in underserved communities with an equal opportunity to learn about and pursue a career in health care, which can ultimately aid in producing a more diverse workforce that can reduce health disparities within local communities. PATCH has been a part of the Charlotte region since 2015 and has supported almost 300 students. This year, 12 Wake Forest University School of Medicine medical students were involved and served as research mentors for students alongside residents, faculty and staff.
“I believe that mentorship and advocacy serve as the foundation for recruiting the next generation of healthcare professionals,” said Hisham Qadri, a Wake Forest University School of Medicine student. “Programs like PATCH encourage students who might not otherwise pursue a medical career by introducing them to individuals with various backgrounds, sometimes similar to what a student may identify with. I’m grateful for the opportunity to play a small part on their journey to discovering what their future careers could be.”
PATCH is an eight week curriculum – sessions are held every other Saturday – where participants learn how to conduct and present scientific research, shadow health care professionals and engage in other personal and professional development experiences. Forty high school students from 11 Title I CMS participated in this year’s program. Students completed four in-person sessions at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center and four virtual sessions.
|“Through this experience, I am able to share my own path to medicine with ambitious high school students and answer any questions they have regarding the steps of the journey.” – John Petela, Wake Forest University School of Medicine student|
At the end of the program, students are tasked with completing a research project centered on various community health topics. Each group focuses on a single subject that is important to them and the community – this year’s topics ranged from mental health to health care accessibility. The PATCH program also concludes with a closing ceremony where the students present their group findings.
“The PATCH program helps me feel more connected to the community and patients I am interacting with every day,” said John Petela, a Wake Forest University School of Medicine student. “It is a rewarding and humbling experience for medical students to be able to provide guidance to underserved students in our own city, as we were in a similar position not long ago. Through this experience, I am able to share my own path to medicine with ambitious high school students and answer any questions they have regarding the steps of the journey.”