SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A group of high school students received hands-on surgical training from surgeons at a California hospital in an effort to open their eyes to a future in the medical field.
Students from Sacramento Charter High School on Tuesday visited the nearby UC Davis Medical Center in the state’s capital. The group, many of whom are students of color, got to interact with hospital surgeons and medical professionals.
Organizers hoped the experience would help inspire them to seek higher education and certain careers they may not have previously felt comfortable pursuing.
"Oftentimes when you go to a medical environment or seek medical help, you don’t see someone that looks like you, and already you’re kind of on guard or curious," Sacramento Charter High Dean of Culture and Instruction Christina Williams-James told FOX 40.
Sacramento High, an independent, public charter school, aims to graduate "self-motivated, industrious and critically thinking leaders who are committed to serving others, passionate about lifelong learning and prepared to earn a degree from a four-year college," according to its handbook.
Among the participants was senior Ebony Jones, who is part of the school’s senior research class. The students learned how to operate on a fractured skull replica, among other activities.
"I like that we finally get to have an actual field trip outside of school, and we don’t have to have a lab just in our classroom," Jones told the news station. "A real-world experience."
Sacramento Charter High School senior Ebony Jones is pictured at UC Davis Medical Center on May 17, 2022. (Credit: FOX 40)
The students’ teacher, Tamra Doty, said such a field trip goes hand-in-hand with her vision of the classroom and working directly with industry professionals. She called the day "motivating and inspiring."
"It makes a difference when you’re working in science really to be in an environment where you are in a laboratory and you’ve got the equipment they’re using in surgery and to give students some hands-on experience working with this," Doty said.
Jones has a few more years to decide what career path she’ll take, but she said she was grateful to have the opportunity to meet with some of the medical industry’s best and brightest.
"Hearing their experiences makes it hopeful for me that I could do it one day," Jones told the local news station. "If I just believe in myself, I could just be what I want in the STEM field."
School officials stressed that getting students exposed to various medical fields, such as doctors, surgeons and others, "helps to bring more familiar faces to the field."
Williams-James added that the result makes people feel "more comfortable, [and] confident to seek that medical help because we all deserve quality healthcare."
A look at medical school enrollment in the US
White students still make up nearly 50% of U.S. medical school applications, according to data shared by the Association of American Medical Colleges. However, it noted a 2021 increase in more racially and ethnically diverse applicants among the nation’s medical schools.
In 2021, there were a total of 62,443 applicants to medical schools, up nearly 18% from 2020.
The number of Black or African American first-year students in 2021 increased by 21%, to 2,562, the AAMC said. First-year students who are Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin also jumped by 7.1%, to 2,869.
However, American Indian or Alaska Native first-year students declined in 2021 by 8.5%, to 227, the data showed.
This story was reported from Cincinnati.