At a young age, Izidoria Araujo watched as her father writhed in pain for 23 hours, waiting to receive medical care for kidney stones at a small rural hospital in Brazil.
“There was such a long line of people waiting for medical attention that a woman gave birth on the floor right next to us,” Araujo says. “Eventually my father had to pay a bribe to a hospital worker so that he could be moved up the line to get the surgery he needed.”
That experience ignited her yearning to become a doctor to help improve health care access for underserved populations. And recently, Araujo tooks steps to fulfill that dream. The senior at Orlando’s Cypress Creek High School participated in the College of Medicine Health Leaders Summer Academy, a medical pipeline program that provides hands-on educational experiences for high school students from underserved communities interested in health careers.
Organized by the College of Medicine’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the week-long summer academy helped students chart their career paths to healthcare professions. They learned about health-centered education tracks and programs at UCF, tour university campuses and facilities, and engaged in activities designed to increase interest, awareness and passion for science and medicine.
“I think this type of program is important, especially for students that don’t know where to go or how to get there,” Araujo says. “This was a great introduction to a lot of things we will be doing as healthcare workers. It allowed us to feel what it would be like. We also learned that you don’t necessarily have to be a doctor or nurse or do clinical work. We could be the CEO of hospitals or work in data or administration.”
New this year, the ODEI partnered with UCF’s College of Nursing, College of Health Professions and Sciences, and the School of Global Health Management and Informatics to host 57 participants — ninth through 12th-grade students from Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties — who completed over 25 activities, workshops and presentations. At the medical school, they learned CPR and suturing, assessed the health of medical manikins and trained with a robotic surgery simulator.
Students also received a tour of the College of Nursing’s STIM (Simulation, Technology, Innovation and Modeling) Center. There, they learned how to transfer a patient from a bed to a stretcher, how to properly wash their hands (with glow germ), and used the Virtuali-tee, a 3D augmented reality T-shirt that showed how the body works in real-time, to view their own heartbeats.
“Our students taught them about moulage and they applied DIY bruises to each other, which they promptly texted to their parents to scare them,” says Heather Peralta, director of the Nurse Educator program. “Our students also taught them how to take vital signs and how to do a cranial nerve assessment.”
At the UCF Downtown campus, the School of Global Health Management and Informatics took them through a day in the life of a healthcare executive and taught them about health informatics and how data works.
Since its inception in 2012, the Health Leaders program has inspired hundreds of students from Osceola, Orange and Seminole counties to pursue careers in healthcare.
“Our goal was to target those who are underrepresented and have a passion for social justice and health equity,” says Tracy MacIntosh, the College of Medicine’s associate dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, “and show them there is a place for them in medicine.”