About 30 community college students get hands-on lessons in medicine
Community college students got a taste of what it is like to be a physician this week at the UC Davis Center for Health and Technology, where they received hands-on clinical training as part of a two-week educational experience provided by AvenueM.
AvenueM (the M is for Medicine) is a program that supports and mentors community college students on the pathway to medical school. The program equips and empowers young adults from communities that have historically been underrepresented in the medical profession to pursue successful careers in health care. It was established by UC Davis in 2022 through a $1.8 million grant aimed to diversify the future workforce. The program partners with 10 community colleges and three other universities, as well as local health care companies and community partners to provide meaningful educational opportunities.
Comprehensive curriculum teaches lifelong skills
During the two-week summer program that ends June 16, about 30 students are immersed in an intensive curriculum that teaches them how to transfer to four-year universities and plan their route to medical school. Exploring their strengths, learning test-taking strategies and establishing personal branding are part of the coursework. They also learn how to conduct medical research and learn about the various specialties within health care, hearing firsthand from physicians representing more than eight different areas of medicine.
“Our comprehensive program gives students the knowledge, skills and support to navigate the complex pathways leading to careers in health care. This multifaceted approach includes hands-on experiences, career guidance and mentorship,” said Arra Jane Soriano, program manager for workforce innovations at the UC Davis School of Medicine. “We want to make a lasting impact on the lives of these aspiring physicians and clinicians who have traditionally faced limited resources and opportunities.”
Participant Malik Martin, 20, said he wants to be a surgeon and believes in the program’s mission of increasing the diversity of the health care professions pool.
“This program is so important because having people who look like you in medicine means that you are more willing to trust them with your health and your life,” Martin said.
Hands-on simulation experience
As part of the AvenueM experience, the students toured the UC Davis Center for Simulation and Education Enhancement housed within the UC Davis Center for Health and Technology building. They learned about the importance of simulation education in helping health care professionals further hone their clinical skills. They also spent two days in the classrooms at the UC Davis Center for Health and Technology learning how to suture like surgeons and draw blood like phlebotomists.
“This is my first real exposure to suturing and it is definitely one of the big highlights for me of the program,” said Sophia Brunkow, 18, who is interested in a career in critical care and trauma surgery. “It’s been fantastic to meet people who are passionate about their medical careers and can share their knowledge with us.”
Richmond Eang, 18, agreed and said the experience has only made him more excited to pursue a possible career in pediatric medicine.
“The hands-on experiences really help me see what I enjoy doing and which path I want to go down,” Eang said. “It has all been really enriching.”
Teaching a group of eager students how to stitch up a piece of synthetic skin was a fun and fulfilling experience for Tyler Carcamo, a third-year general surgery resident at UC Davis Health.
“These students are going to be my colleagues someday and seeing the excitement and passion with which they embraced the suture simulation was truly inspiring. Having an opportunity like this early on in your higher education is incredibly motivating and the thought of having a more diverse physician workforce gives me hope for the future,” Carcamo said.
Ian Julie, associate professor of emergency medicine and medical director for the simulation center, said exposing students to these types of simulation activities is perfect for getting them accustomed to working in a clinical environment.
“Simulations allow students to bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and real-world clinical practice. This is a valuable hands-on experience that will hopefully inspire and drive them to continue their studies and pursue future careers as health care professionals,” Julie said.
For Aiden Kutney, 21, the AvenueM experience only deepened his interest in health care.
“Seeing all the doctors come in and talk to us about their jobs gives me great motivation to pursue a career in medicine. It has made it so that I can actually see myself doing those jobs,” Kutney said.