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It’s Bright Futures Ahead for Dozens of Inner-City Students

Students with dreams of becoming physicians receive hands-on experience and job opportunities through Kaiser Permanente.

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Gabriel Gonzalez of South Gate, California, never imagined the possibility of one day working as a physician. The eldest son of Mexican immigrant parents, Gonzalez admits that although he always had a strong interest in science, the option of a career in medicine never crossed his mind. It was not until he reached eighth grade and joined Kaiser Permanente’s Hippocrates Circle Program at the West Los Angeles Medical Center that he believed he could actually become a doctor one day.

Kaiser Permanente’s Hippocrates Circle Program is a 12-week mentoring program designed to encourage underrepresented students to pursue a medical career by exposing them to clinical settings and offering interaction with physicians and select medical schools. 

When asked about his career plans now, Gonzalez confidently asserts, “There is no doubt that I am going to become a doctor.” With a 4.3-GPA at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (L.A.C.E.S.), and three summers of experience in a clinical setting through Kaiser Permanente’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), this eleventh grader is well on his way to achieving his dream.

Recently, 46 students from the South Los Angeles area also came one step closer to realizing their dreams of becoming physicians as Kaiser Permanente’s West Los Angeles Medical Center celebrated the culmination of its 2015 Hippocrates Circle Program. Participants from Bethune Math and Science Technology Middle School, Crozier Middle School, L.A.C.E.S., and Orville Wright Middle School, and their families were treated to a lunch reception in Culver City that featured a keynote speech by Sen. Holly Mitchell.

The Hippocrates Circle Program is available to seventh- and eighth-grade students across Southern California through Kaiser Permanente medical centers. Throughout the program, students engage with practicing physicians and take part in various interactive activities including a hospital tour, medical school fair, and conduct lab science experiments. The program also features a Health Care Ambassador’s Day where the students receive tools to promote healthier eating and increased physical activity in their schools and communities. 

Exposing students to a health care setting at this stage in their education is critical in helping them identify early on what are the appropriate courses and electives they will need in order to pursue a medical career.

Through the Hippocrates Circle Program, students have the opportunity to stay connected with Kaiser Permanente through its volunteer services program, where they are encouraged to network and apply for future internship, volunteer and job opportunities at Kaiser Permanente.

Gonzalez is excited to begin his SYEP rotation at Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center in July where he will work alongside physicians and other medical staff who will teach him the ins and outs of working in a clinical setting.

Stay tuned for a series of stories featuring Gonzalez and other local students as they participate in Kaiser Permanente’s SYEP.

For additional information about Kaiser Permanente’s Hippocrates Circle Program, visit kp.org/hippocratescircle.

To learn more about the Summer Youth Employment Program, click here: community.kp.org/be-informed/program/summer-youth-employment-program

If you enjoyed this story, visit: community.kp.org/be-inspired/story/making-futures-in-health-care-a-reality