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Teens learn about health career paths, medical school from IU Northwest faculty, students

Project Outreach and Prevention Program aims to steer underrepresented teens away from violence, toward career aspirations

Wednesday Jul 12, 2017


Chiamara Anokwute, a 2017 Indiana University Northwest graduate currently applying to medical schools, told a group of 42 high school students that no matter what medical specialty or health career they choose to pursue, if they are passionate and committed, they can achieve it.

“You can do it,” he assured them. “You absolutely can do it.”

Backing him up were a panel of undergraduate and medical students from IU Northwest who talked about what it takes to succeed in college and get accepted into medical school. The discussion was part of the Health Professions Enrichment Program, designed to introduce local, underserved high school students to careers in medicine, dentistry, advanced nursing and other healthcare careers.

Now in its third year, the program is an initiative of Project Outreach and Prevention (POP) on Teen Violence, a nonprofit organization founded by Michael McGee, adjunct faculty member at IU School of Medicine – Northwest - Gary and medical director of the emergency department at The Methodist Hospitals. POP aims to prevent and alleviate youth violence, while inspiring health lifestyles, positive behaviors, and accessible career opportunities.

Morgan Johnson, 17, of Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary, said she appreciated hearing from college students about the differences between high school and college, and the information they provided about getting into medical school made her goal of becoming a trauma surgeon seem much more attainable.

“As long as you have the right mindset, you can be driven and do what you want to do,” Johnson said.

This was one of many takeaways she took from the four-day program, which also included stops to Methodist Hospitals, Purdue Northwest, Community Health Net Federally Qualified Health Center, and various dental and physician offices.

The panel of students also gave the teens helpful advice like looking for opportunities to shadow health professionals, perfecting study habits and more.

As part of the program, the students also took a three-hour CPR and Basic Life-Saving Skills course and received Heart Saver Certifications from the POP Foundation.

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