Health Sciences Pipeline

College of Health Sciences Dean Kathleen Matt (far right) is on her second year teaching ‘Introduction to Health Sciences’ in local high schools. Article by Dante LaPenta Photos by Ashley Barnas and Alyssa Benjamin

Engaging local high school students to inspire future healthcare workforce

The University of Delaware College of Health Sciences (CHS) is expanding engagement locally by giving high school students a jumpstart as they prepare for college. With a focus on Delawareans and underrepresented students, the UD College of Health Sciences Pipeline Program exposes middle and high school students to the breadth of health sciences career choices and aids in preparation for the academic rigor of higher education. A goal is to recruit and develop highly educated professionals — the future local leaders of the healthcare profession. Investing in these students provides opportunities for them to be competitive and better prepared for college.

“This is one piece of creating a diverse workforce,” said CHS Dean Kathleen Matt. “Healthcare is delivered to individuals from a broad range of backgrounds and it’s important that we have a workforce in Delaware that reflects those we serve as they deliver quality care.”

Matt is leading by example. At Newark High School, she’s taught Introduction to Health Sciences, a dual-credit course for 26 juniors and seniors. The course explores the interaction between healthcare professionals, government policy and individual demand for healthcare as the industry works towards long-term solutions to healthcare challenges.

“We wanted to create a class and a pipeline because these students are the ones who help us reimagine what effective healthcare really looks like,” Matt said. “We wanted to reach back further to get them engaged sooner so that they see the possibilities and opportunities available to them. It’s important for high school students to get a glimpse into what it will be like in college. That’s why we chose the format of having them engage with University faculty and community partners.”

And Newark students have really taken to the course.

“The class is very eye-opening of what a college course is. It’s very different from a high school class,” Newark student Micah Howard-Sparks said. “We have guest speakers who give lectures on their jobs, their life, their education and what they are doing to improve the healthcare of our country.”

In the spring semester, the same students will take another CHS class, Introduction to Medical Laboratory Sciences. The juniors in the class will then have a chance to take two additional CHS courses during their senior year.

In true Delaware fashion, the connections run deep. Matt is a Newark High School graduate. Her passion for UD and her high school alma mater blend perfectly in this unique course.

“I grew up in this community,” she said. “To me, it goes without saying that a school like Newark High School, which is right in the neighborhood of our University, should benefit from engaging with UD. The University should add value to its community.”

Read more — UDaily