High Sierra AHEC Pipeline
I first heard of High Sierra AHEC when I was in seventh grade attending AHEC’s Health Care Heroes Camp through the University of Nevada, Reno’s (UNR) Kids University summer camps. Little did I know then that High Sierra AHEC would have a profound impact on my educational and professional career. Currently, I’m a senior at UNR studying public health and a minor in business administration. I have been volunteering in AHEC’s Student Ambassador Program since my sophomore year.
High Sierra AHEC offers program starting in K-12 students, undergraduate students, graduate and doctoral level students, and all the way up to current health professionals fulfilling Continuing Education credits. This is known as our “healthcare workforce pipeline”. The start of the pipeline begins with the summer camps in partnership with Kids University to suit students who are either 3rd to 5th or 5th to 8th grade. Health Care Heroes Camp covers all body systems and exploration of various health careers. These students often get to visit local hospitals for a tour of the facility. Students also engage in dissections and other hands-on activities. The Crime Scene Investigation summer camp gives 5th to 8th grade students an introduction to the field of forensics. Students are given a fictitious murder and must solve the cause of death using forensic techniques. AHEC continues along the pipeline to serve students with Project Prevent and Project ROARR (Project Reach Out And Revitalize Rural), both of which target Title 1 middle and high school students within their 6 catchment areas in northern counties of the state of Nevada. These students learn about college preparation, Interprofessional Educational (IPE) activities (explaining that healthcare involves a team of people to treat patients, not just a physician or nurse), the health care system, health disparities, how to conduct research and search for scholarly sources, how to debate respectively on a variety of important health topics, and more.
The next step in the pipeline is the Student Ambassador (SA) program, which provides undergraduate students who are pursuing a health-related career with opportunities to network, engage in professional development, serve the community, and reach youth in Washoe County’s grade schools. One of the premiere tasks of an SA is to help develop and teach the above pipeline programs. They also take leadership roles in developing the annual Pre-Professional Health Conference to network with current health professionals, engage in hands-on activities such as dissections and ultrasound demonstrations, and learning about emerging topics in today’s health field.
Once SA’s graduate from college with their undergraduate degree, and continue to pursue graduate-level coursework in a healthcare-related field, they graduate into the Scholars program. Scholars learn from didactic (lecture-based) learning opportunities, civic engagement and experiential opportunities, and trainings on AHEC’s six core competencies: IPE, practice transformation (providing them with resources and content to appropriately assess their practices and how they can make improvements to it based on current events or policies), social determinants of health, cultural competency/humility, behavioral health integration, and current and emergent health topics and issues. This provides them with opportunities to become premiere health professionals in their chosen field. Once Scholars graduate and begin practicing, they can continue to partner with AHEC to fulfill their Continuing Education credits, through webinars offered here: https://www.highsierraahec.org/cmecourses
As a Student Ambassador, I have had the opportunity to teach a Health Care Heroes Camp, act as team leaders for student outreach and marketing for the Pre-Professional Health Summit, and network with health professionals to learn more about their field and if that is interesting to me as a future health professional. The experiences I have had as a Student Ambassador have been vital to forming the student and professional I am today. Personally, the professional development opportunities that I’ve had have been most impactful. If you’re wondering if being a Student Ambassador would be beneficial to you, I would say yes. We’re still taking applications for Fall 2020, so click on this link to apply to become an Student Ambassador: https://tinyurl.com/studentambassador20-21. We would love to have you join the High Sierra AHEC team!
Kayla is a graduating senior at the University of Nevada Reno, studying Public Health with a minor in Business Administration. She is passionate about public health policy, education, and research. Kayla recently joined the team as the Workforce Development Intern at High Sierra AHEC for the Fall 2020 semester. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, taking care of her houseplants and betta fish Toothless, hiking, and painting.