Future scientists explore opportunities at HSC
This summer, a group of Fort Worth Independent School District high school students got a glimpse of what their futures could look like.
Incoming first-year students at the Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences participated in the Summer Bridge Program on the The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth campus. TABS is a pre-college high school that exposes students to education and career opportunities in health care and science.
During the Summer Bridge Program students get hands-on experiences in HSC’s labs and classrooms. Guided by HSC School of Biomedical Sciences faculty and students, the group explored the anatomy and simulation labs, and learned to suture mock incisions and read x-rays.
The week culminated with a White Coat Ceremony where HSC faculty members and graduate students cloaked each TABS student in a new white lab coat. They will wear the coats throughout their high school experience and eventually trade them in for graduation gowns.
The TABS program, founded in 2011 as a partnership between HSC, Fort Worth ISD and Tarrant County College, also offers students the opportunity to earn dual college credit and certificates in career pathways such as biomedical sciences, central sterilization technician, patient care technician and pharmacy technician.
“This week really is just the first step in the TABS and HSC relationship,” said Rachel Menegaz, PhD, assistant professor of Anatomical Sciences and director of HSC’s TABS Outreach Program.
“We will see these students again throughout high school and hopefully someday as HSC students in one of our academic programs”
Christine Nguyen, a TABS graduate and now medical student at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, offered mentorship to TABS students during the Summer Bridge Program. Nguyen says the program was instrumental in her journey to medical school.
“Through TABS I was also able to build a strong foundation of basic knowledge about medicine,” Nguyen said. “Because of the unique classes and opportunities, I explored different career options in the health field and really determined that I wanted to become a physician.”
She adds that TABS also plays a vital role in increasing diversity and representation of people with economically disadvantaged backgrounds in health care and science. According to Fort Worth ISD, more than 70 percent of students in TABS come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
“It is important to increase opportunities for these students because we need more health professionals who reflect our populations,” Nguyen said. “To become a good physician, we need to be empathetic and advocate for our patients. One of the best ways to have empathy is when we have been in a similar situation ourselves. That will allow us to better accommodate our patients’ needs.”