A medical student guides one of the attendees through an ultrasound
A medical student guides one of the attendees through an ultrasound

College Hosts Conference to Introduce Local Youth to the Health Sciences

Thomas Kelly
Thomas Kelly
A medical student guides one of the attendees through an ultrasound
A medical student guides one of the attendees through an ultrasound
Promoting Academic and Career Experience (PACE) Conference, offered high school students interactions and hands-on training with health professionals

High school students performing CPR chest compressions
High school students performing CPR chest compressions
How do you decide which career is the right fit? Providing opportunities for youth to engage in and learn about health care professions is central to the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix’s mission.

On April 4, the college welcomed more than 140 students from five local high schools — Alhambra, Phoenix Bioscience, Skyline, South Mountain and Tolleson — to the Phoenix Bioscience Core campus for the Promoting Academic and Career Experience (PACE) Conference. PACE engaged attendees with health care professionals and granted them a chance to participate in hands-on activities.

Francisco Lucio, JD, associate dean of the college’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (OEDI), spoke to the importance of opening those doors, "Our student outreach efforts are critical to cultivating the future matriculants to the college,” he said. “A conference like this allows local high school students — from diverse backgrounds needed in medicine — to get to know our campus and envision themselves here as medical students.”

OEDI co-sponsored the conference, which was organized by the Central Arizona Area Health Education Center.

The Center for Simulation and Innovation virtual reality ophthalmic training simulator
The Center for Simulation and Innovation virtual reality ophthalmic training simulator
Angela Bryant, a representative of CAAHEC, noted how the schools represented communities from across the Valley. She welcomed the students and encouraged them to use the opportunity to build bonds with their peers. “Get to know each other. This is the community you’d be working with, or in school with, if you chose this as a career,” she said.

Throughout the half-day of presentations, there was ample opportunity to do so. Students were given insight into pathways to physical therapy education from Jessica Goodman, MD, of Creighton University School of Medicine; they performed CPR on mannequins with instruction from Corinn Herrell, Erin Hillock and Shellece Kleinman from the Phoenix College of Nursing; and they viewed medical procedure demonstrations by the college’s medical students in the Center for Simulation and Innovation — including ultrasounds, intubation, virtual reality technology and much more.

Francisco Moreno, MD, professor of Psychiatry at the College of Medicine – Tucson, associate vice president for their OEDI and director of the Hispanic Center for Excellence at the UArizona Health Sciences delivered the keynote address.

Dr. Moreno emphasized the importance for students to discover what they are passionate about, how to develop the self-confidence to pursue those passions, as well as the need for equity in medicine. “Look at your community, look at your family, look at your background and be sure that we’re representing those that need it the most,” he said.

Francisco Moreno, MD
Francisco Moreno, MD
PACE’s schedule was designed with an open format, allowing the students to attend sessions that most interested them. Some chose to learn about becoming a phlebotomy technician, or about the basics of surgical knot tying; while others learned about the availability of financial aid for college. Each session was held twice to maximize the students’ opportunities to attend sessions that sparked their curiosity.

The mission of the CAAHEC is to develop and enhance educational networks, programs and services to improve the supply, quality, diversity and distribution of health professionals who serve rural and underserved populations and can provide quality care in the context of a transforming health care system.

Bryant highlighted the organization’s dedication to engaging the diverse population of Arizona. “I work with students who are primarily from Title I schools, and it’s important that the workforce reflect the students that are in the communities,” she said.

About the College

Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated 669 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,600 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Bioscience Core, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.