Future health professionals “Take Flight” at UNTHSC

January 17, 2013

If someone were to follow you around at work all day long, peering over your shoulder and watching everything you do, you’d probably be pretty creeped out. But when it’s in the cause of helping a young person choose a lifetime career, it’s an entirely different story.

It’s called shadowing, and it’s the central component of a program by the UNT Career Center called “Take Flight.” The idea is to help current UNT undergraduates identify their intended future profession in medical or allied health professions, then shadow a mentor within that field.

Earlier in January, the UNT Health Science Center approached the program from a different angle, welcoming pre-medical and pre-health profession students from the University of North Texas as well as Texas Christian University to campus so they could experience two days in the life of medical and health professions students, faculty and staff – shadowing the institution at several levels, rather than one profession. Participants met with panels of current Health Science Center students and admissions personnel of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) and School of Health Professions’ Physician Assistant (PA) Studies and Physical Therapy (PT) programs. They enjoyed hands-on activities in laboratory and clinical facilities, including the anatomy lab, osteopathic manipulative medicine lab, and the patient simulation lab.

“I loved how friendly everyone was,” said Zulma Ibarra, a junior biology major from UNT. She’s interested in becoming a DO and wanted to know more about TCOM.

Kristi Dena, a senior biology major from TCU, works as a medical scribe in the emergency room at Texas Health Harris Methodist, and became interested in the PA program at the Health Science Center after meeting many of the students during rotations. “This experience has helped me learn so much about the admissions process,” Dena said. “It has confirmed that UNTHSC is my first choice.”

Maribel Lomeli, a junior kinesiology major from TCU interested in physical therapy, said her favorite part of the two-day experience was touring the anatomy lab. “It showed me the difference between undergraduate and graduate studies. I saw the next step,” she said. “I can’t wait to do that.”

A pre-medical student also interested in public health met with a current School of Public Health student and many others visiting were made aware of the Master of Medical Sciences program in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. They now intend to apply.

“This is real-world experience that students eagerly seek out,” said Jimmy Renfro, Assistant Director of Career Services at the Health Science Center. “Classroom training is essential, but so is the experience of being fully immersed in the daily experience. This program is a real eye-opener for everyone involved.”

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