UAMS Students Visit Helena Teens to Showcase Health Care Careers

By Spencer Watson

The event, Raising Exposure & Awareness of Careers in Health (REACH) in the Delta, gave nearly two hundred ninth through 12th grade students the opportunity to ask questions, visit with and learn from students from the UAMS colleges of MedicineNursingPharmacyHealth Professions and Public Health, and the UAMS Graduate School.

It was sponsored by the UAMS chapters of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), the UAMS Center for Diversity Affairs and the Arkansas Medical Dental and Pharmaceutical Association.

“Our goal is to just spark an interest in health careers and to hopefully set a foundation of a network that the students can access as they begin to think about and navigate life post high school,” said Einnod Williams, vice president of UAMS’ SNMA chapter.

KIPP students spent the morning learning about opportunities in an array of medical fields, whether a physician in a family practice, a nurse in a hospital setting, a scientist in a research lab or a pharmacist in a rural area.

The afternoon sessions gave way to hands-on tutorials with students learning how to measure and record blood pressure. Using fun games and interactive activities, Janet Ligon, a recruiting specialist with UAMS East, helped emphasize the unique roles of health care professionals in various settings. A college fair and panel session allowed high school students to ask UAMS students about the college application process, what to expect in classes and labs, and how to best prepare for an education and career in health care.

“Students are encouraged to follow their dreams; being from an underrepresented community, you are not 100 percent knowledgeable about all of the career options around you,” said Danviona King, president of the SNPhA chapter at UAMS. “Therefore, with the REACH Delta Event, we hope to have inspired young students to reach goals and have dreams that they did not know existed or thought of as impossible.”

Doing so has tangible benefits for the future of Arkansas, said Billy Thomas, M.D., UAMS vice chancellor for diversity.

“Events like this one are important in building a career pipeline to help foster the next generation of homegrown health care professionals here in Arkansas, particularly in underserved areas,” he said. “We hope to one day see many of these faces in our classrooms and, ultimately, in our clinics at UAMS.”