AHSC’s Med-Start Program Aims to Change the Face of Health Care

High school students competitively selected from throughout the state, including Arizona’s most remote and underserved communities, are exploring health-care careers and education opportunities, conducting research, and taking college-level courses in the six-week summer program at the Arizona Health Sciences Center.

High school students from Douglas, Kearney, Nogales, Payson, the Phoenix area (Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa), San Carlos, Sells, Tuba City, Tucson, Whiteriver, Winslow and Yuma successfully competed for a place in Med-Start, the health career interest and college-level engagement summer program at the Arizona Health Sciences Center (AHSC) in Tucson. For six weeks, they have been living on the University of Arizona campus while participating in the program which ends Saturday, July 11.

The highly competitive program is a proven success: 80 percent of its participants go on to enroll in higher education courses.

Med-Start has two goals: to address the critical shortage of a diverse health-care workforce and to provide high school students with opportunities to explore health careers and college experiences to successfully reach their academic and career goals.

Creating a diverse health-care workforce representative of the populations it serves is a priority for Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences. He and Francisco A. Moreno, MD, assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion at AHSC and professor of psychiatry and deputy dean for diversity and inclusion of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, are leaders in AHSC’s efforts to recruit and train a knowledgeable, inclusive and diverse health-care workforce committed to eliminating health disparities.

Med-Start is one of several AHSC programs created to promote health equity and wellness in Arizona’s communities, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, geography, environment or socioeconomic status. Since 1969, more than 1,000 high school students, including students from Arizona’s most remote and under-represented areas, have been accepted into Med-Start. The Merlin K. “Monte” DuVal Memorial Med-Start Endowment was established to generate funds to support the Med-Start program.

This year, 46 Med-Start participants selected from underserved communities in Arizona have been experiencing college life, living in University of Arizona dorms and earning four units of college credit through the UA. The high school students take an English composition class, an introductory chemistry lab and a math course; learn about college success strategies in structured “College 101” workshops; and conduct research.

Med-Start students also participate in interactive presentations throughout AHSC, learning skills needed in health professions, such as responding to trauma incidents, treating fractures and neck and spine injuries, and learning dissection and suturing skills. They tour the UA College of Medicine – Tucson human gross anatomy lab and Arizona Simulation Technology and Education Center (ASTEC) simulation lab. They learn basic toxicology in a lab activity using blackworms, and also learn to make lip balm and anti-itch lotion.

Med-Start students travel throughout Arizona, visiting the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix and other universities, including Northern Arizona University and Grand Canyon University. They also learn from health-care professionals who work with diverse populations at the Tubac Fire Department, the El Rio Health Center in Tucson and Tuba City Regional Health Care.

For more information about AHSC diversity programs, please visit the UA College of Medicine – Tucson Office of Diversity and Inclusion website: www.diversity.medicine.arizona.edu

Arizona high schools and the students who participated in Med-Start 2015:

Alchesay High School: Justin Begay, Shauntel Colelay, Shantel T. Harris, Corleone Hastings, Brittney K. Skidmore

Amphitheater High School: Joseph A. Cuellar

Andrada Polytechnic High School, Jeremih P. Chase

Baboquivari High School: Jeannette L. Puella, Tayah M.  Yazzie

Betty H. Fairfax High School: Camriana Pondexter

Catalina Foothills High School: Anna Maria Driesen

Central High School: Ruben J. Chacon, Angel A. Saucedo, Briana Urbina

Cibola High School: Angel M. Cruz

City High School: Gabriel J. Martinez

Douglas High School: Susan Resenderiz, Yessica Vasquez

Glendale High School: Erick O. Jaquez, Martin Ng

Ha:san Preparatory and Leadership School: Amos A. Stevens

Kofa High School: Kimberly A. Ramos

Mesa High School: Cristina Aguirre

Millennium High School: Gissel V. Marquez

Nogales High School: Aikka J. Ybarra

North High School: Brianna Cervantes

Payson High School: Marena H. McKeen

Ray Junior-Senior High School: Nepeese Avechuco

Rio Rico High School: Jesus M. Arenas, Azaph Crespo, Victor Miranda

Sahuarita High School: Victoria Castro

Saint Mary's Catholic High School: Nydia E. Salazar-Calderon

San Carlos Secondary School: Tristan L. Ganilla, Diondre Hooke, Adrianna S. Haozous, Martessa J. Norman, Kristian L. Pechuli, Delbert D. Talawyma Jr.

San Luis High School: Kathya Ceniceros

Sunnyside High School: Javier S. Bastidas

Tuba City High School: Myah R. Iron

Vista Grande High School: Sean M. Mendoza

Williams Field High School: Luciano Hernandez

Willow Canyon High School: Maryam A. Sainz

Winslow High School: Bradley D. Kanuho

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About The Arizona Health Sciences Center (AHSC)

The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center (AHSC) is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. AHSC is comprised of the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, AHSC reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater desert southwest in providing cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, AHSC employs almost 5,000 people, has nearly 1,000 faculty members and garners more than $126 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: http://ahsc.arizona.edu