Middle School Students Introduced to Career Pathways


Group of students looking at x-rays

Health care professionals from Shriners Hospitals for Children gave middle school students an eye-opening introduction to allied health careers on January 17. Nearly 70 students from Fern Bacon, California and Sutter Middle Schools packed the Shriners Hospital auditorium for their Journey to Allied Health Careers, a community collaborative organized by Health Workforce Initiative, Health Professions High School, UC Davis Health and Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Woman speaking to group of students

Inspirational talks by two former Shriners Hospital patients kicked off the program. Dulce Contreras, a burn survivor, shared her journey from patient to career mom. Eric Harris, captain of the Sacramento Rollin Kings told how he gained the confidence to become a competitive wheelchair athlete and disability advocate.

“By sharing stories of obstacles they faced, Dulce and Eric inspired students to pursue their dreams. Even more important, they reminded us that, ultimately, the purpose of health care is to help people live to their fullest potential,” said Margaret Kugler, coordinator of educational and vocational services at the Shriners Hospital in Sacramento.

The students enjoyed talks by UC Davis Health clinical nurse Ren Bee and physical therapist Julie Gross before engaging in hands-on career exploration.

Woman speaking to group of students

Students visited six interactive stations where Shriners Hospital professionals introduced them to x-rays and diagnostic imaging, respiratory therapy, occupational therapy, nutrition, child life and orthotics and prosthetics.

“UC Davis Health is proud to be a part of this important effort to introduce students to careers in the health care field. Health care touches all of our lives, and we are confident that the Journey to Allied Health Careers program will help produce the next generation of health professionals,” said Thomas Nesbitt, Interim Vice Chancellor for Human Health Services.

Teaching young students about all Allied Health Careers is the mission of Health Workforce Initiative led by the California community college chancellor’s office, explained Julie Holt a nurse educator with Los Rios Community Colleges and a lead organizer with the Health Workforce Initiative.  “We share the many accessible and affordable associate degrees and certificates in health careers offered at 8 local community colleges. The middle school age is an exciting time and a crucial point for students to engage and explore all health careers,” she said.

Man speaking to group of students

According to Marla Clayton Johnson, principal at Health Professions High School, approximately 500 students from five different middle schools have participated in the Journey to Allied Health Careers over the past four years.

Careers in Health Care is one of the many community outreach programs organized by Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California.  More information is available online or by calling 916-453-2018.

Media Contact:  Catherine Curran | Public Relations (916) 453-2218 | ccurran@shrinenet.org