Health and Human Service outreach aims to engage youth, reduce healthcare career barriers for historically marginalized groups
College career exploration field trips for Toledo Public Schools eighth graders to BGSU have evolved and provide a portal to a variety of professions
When about 100 eighth-graders from Toledo Public Schools visited the BGSU campus last May for a career exploration event hosted by the College of Health and Human Services, the members of the Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging and Equity hoped that somewhere down the line they would see nurses, nutritionists, physical therapists, social workers and speech pathologists emerge from the group.
But HHS faculty and staff also envisioned something more, something big-picture and something with a greater meaning.
By offering a welcoming portal into a variety of careers for these young people, many of whom might not often see healthcare and human service professionals who look like them, BGSU was advancing its mission to be a public university for the public good.
“Many of our health and human service professions lack the full diversity of the communities we serve and have failed to include folks from historically marginalized groups,” said Dr. Jason Whitfield, an associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders who serves as the diversity and inclusion faculty facilitator for HHS. “This type of event allows us to engage young people in our area with the eventual goal of addressing some of the structural barriers that have created these patterns, because it is important to have a workforce that mirrors an increasingly diverse U.S. population.”
Since TPS has open-enrollment magnet schools, connecting with students who are about to enter high school presented an ideal intersection point as students begin to look more closely at their paths of study that could lead to HHS-related careers.
“We wanted to meet students at a point when they are beginning to think about and make decisions about their futures,” Whitfield said.
TPS was chosen as a partner to strengthen existing connections with an area school district that serves a large community near the BGSU campus.
The eighth graders visiting the BGSU campus attend STEMM academies that provide a curriculum focused on helping students sharpen their knowledge and skills through hands-on, project-based learning. Several of the TPS elementary schools have educational programs emphasizing science, mathematics technology and the healthcare fields.
Whitfield said interactions during the career event gave students the opportunity to ask questions in a relaxed and informal atmosphere and allowed BGSU faculty and staff to provide a foundation of information as the eighth graders contemplated possible careers.
“The nice thing about the STEMM academies is they are neighborhood schools that provide an enhanced project-based curriculum. We thought that was a good place to start,” Whitfield said.
Before the trip to the BGSU campus, the students watched brief videos on the various HHS careers that would be highlighted during the event, and they also filled out short surveys on their interests to help the field trip organizers assign them to certain groups. Based on those surveys, while on campus the students rotated through presentations on three different professions.
There were seven HHS programs that participated in the 2022 Career Exploration Field Trip: food and nutrition, medical laboratory sciences, nursing, physical therapy, public health, social work and speech-language pathology and audiology.
“The idea was to get them here, share some of the basic information on these HHS-related careers through engaging activities, and let them interact with our faculty,” Whitfield said.
The eighth graders got to see how microscopes are used in medical settings, learn about the various blood types and their importance, try on hearing aids, see how anatomical models are used in healthcare education, learn more about speech pathology and physical therapy careers and see how monitoring the heart rate is an essential part of nursing care.
“The students loved the hands-on activities,” Whitfield said. “We wanted to show them some of the concepts, ideas and scenarios you might encounter in each profession. In that way, we were able to give these students a snapshot of what they would do in these different professions. Most students generally know what a doctor or nurse does, but they might not know that much about the other HHS careers.”
The 2022 career exploration event was such a success that the event is being expanded to accommodate 145 TPS students during two days in February.
“We want to step it up a little,” Whitfield said about the outreach and equity exposure efforts of HHS, adding that this year's event will include a campus tour.
“The dedication of our faculty and staff here at Bowling Green and the great organizational work by teachers and administrators at TPS made the first career event a success. We want to build on that and work on addressing some of the healthcare deserts that are out there by maybe jump-starting some of these students on the path to a rewarding career.”
Updated: 01/30/2023 03:16PM