Participants of the ‘Exploring Healthcare Careers for High School-Aged Girls’ event, hosted by the CWHR, practice suturing techniques at the Center for Surgical Innovation
Participants in the ‘Exploring Healthcare Careers for High School-Aged Girls’ event, hosted by the CWHR, practice suturing techniques at the Center for Surgical Innovation

On June 8, the Center for Women’s Health Research (CWHR) and UCHealth partnered to host the third annual “Exploring Healthcare Careers for High School-Aged Girls,” an interactive learning opportunity for high school girls interested in exploring healthcare and science careers. The day-long program offered 60 young women the chance to visit the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, attend lectures and Q&A sessions and participate in hands-on learning experiences to gain insight into the working lives of scientists and healthcare professionals.

After a mother-daughter breakfast and welcoming remarks by CWHR Director Judy Regensteiner, the participants spent their morning visiting the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility and the Center for Surgical Innovation (CSI). At the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility, they observed how lab discoveries translate into cell therapies; at CSI, they experimented with suturing techniques on a variety of tissues. Various researchers and surgical residents explained their different roles at Gates and CSI, and described the diverse and sometimes unpredictable paths they took to get there.

At lunch, the participants were treated to an insightful lecture by Dr. Anne Libby, Vice Chair for Academic Affairs, who discussed the five indicators of talent that can lead to thoughtful, satisfying career choices: yearning, satisfaction, rapid learning, glimpses of excellence, and flow. “In choosing a career path,” she told the girls, “don’t ask yourselves what you want to be. Ask yourselves who you are, and how you can become more you.” A psychiatrist and nurse practitioner from the Johnson Depression Center also spoke to the girls about careers in behavioral health.

The afternoon’s activities included a visit to the Cardiac and Vascular Center’s heart catheter lab, where the girls saw simulated demonstrations of heart catheterization and expanded their knowledge of the various options for professions in cardiology.

The day ended with presentations by athletic trainers from the Sports Medicine Department at Children’s Hospital Colorado, who discussed the options for individuals interested in sports medicine careers. When the day’s activities came to a close, many of the girls expressed their gratitude and excitement at the insights they had gained after exposure to so many career options on campus.

“It opened my mind to a health-centered career,” one participant said. “Before, I simply wanted to do engineering, but now medical school seems interesting too.”

Another, reiterating Dr. Libby’s message, came to the following conclusion: “The best part about the day was realizing that there is no ideal way to get anywhere – you just have to be yourself and follow your heart and it will lead you to where you need to be.”

The CWHR is looking forward to hosting the event again next year.

Guest Contributor:  Andrew Weaver, Public Relations and Community Education Coordinator, Center for Women’s Health Research