Penn-UCHS-CAREs-teamAs University CityHigh School (UCHS) students reach the stage of making significant lifedecisions, a Penn Medicine CAREs grant funds a program to provide them withresources and training to help along the way.

The new program atnearby UCHS, one of the Netter Center for Community Partnership’suniversity-assisted community schools, includes two parts. The first consistsof health education lectures delivered to UCHS students by Family Medicineresidents. The second is an internship program for older students interested inmedical careers who are enrolled in UCHS’ Twilight classes, an evening schoolprogram for students over 17.  

Since 1998, a seriesof Penn Medicine and Netter Center joint programs have been led by PennMedicine’s Family Medicine and Community Health department, including Peter Cronholm, MD, MSCE, FAAFP assistantprofessor of Family Medicine and Community Health and director of community programs.

In the program’sfirst set of lectures at UCHS, Gabriella Maris, a second-year familymedicine resident, responded to the rate of teen pregnancy in West Philadelphiawith a four-part series on prenatal care, including fetal development, genetics & toxicology, prenatalmilestones & care, and general pediatrics for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade UCHC students.

“As a family doctor (who provides both OB and Pediatricscare), pregnancy can be a very overwhelming time for new moms and dads,” saidMaris.  “As clinicians, we are aware of many important fetal milestonesand environmental risks for a developing baby.” 

The information empowers the students to help pregnant familyand friends, increase their own maternal-fetal awareness, or advance theirinterests in this area of science and medicine. One family medicine resident isassigned to the community medicine block monthly so that students hear fromexperts in different areas. Future lectures by other family medicine residents explorethe topics of tobacco cessation, nutrition, exercise, hygiene, drugs andalcohol, and more.

Overall, thestudents were very engaged and asked great questions,” said Maris. “Whether clinical or educational, I think the students learned a lot and werethankful for the teaching sessions.”

High school students have since turned to Maris for advice,including a pregnant student, a young woman who thought she might be pregnant,students interested in pediatrics, and more.


Internship Program

In addition to supplementingUCHS health classes, the health collaborative includes a paid vocationalmentorship program for selected Twilight program students, led by Netter CenterCareer Specialist Waffiyyah Murray and Patrice Berry, director of the NetterCenter’s Student Success Center and site director for UCHS.  

Seeing an interestamong UCHS senior students in health care careers, Family Medicine created an18-week internship program.  Four UCHS students piloted the program at PennPresbyterian Medical Center’s Penn Family Care four days-a-week, and rotatethrough four tracks: front desk, medical assistant, nursing, and physician.Mentors volunteer their time in each of these tracks.

Directing theStudent Success Center’s internship program, Murray facilitates workshops andweekly professional development sessions at UCHS with the interns as part ofthe Philadelphia Youth Network’s WorkReady internship program. The program issupported by a grant that pays students while they receive job-training experience. Murray ensures each student develops a portfolio with important items, such asan updated resume, cover letter, references, letter of recommendation, and a SMARTgoal that the student aims to achieve during or after the internship. Goalsinclude performing well in the internship and receiving an internship extension,getting into a trade school, and more.

“Getting thathands-on experience working with nurses and other hospital staff, the studentsget a chance to see what really goes into it and that it’s not just takingblood pressure,” said Murray. “They feel it’s what they really want to do andunderstand the structure to be successful.”

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