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Making Futures in Health Care a Reality

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Over 450 middle and high school students spent a Saturday happily dissecting lambs’ hearts, learning the basics of CPR and emergency preparedness, attending a theatrical event, and talking with physicians and nurses about the real possibility of careers in health care. All this took place when Hippocrates Circle Program students, their parents, and medical center mentors converged on the Pasadena Convention Center for a day spent exploring a future rich with possibilities.

Hippocrates Circle is funded by Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit and helps youth from under-represented communities and diverse backgrounds realize they can attend college and pursue careers as physicians or medical professionals. Through the collaborative efforts of local school districts, medical schools, and doctors and staff from Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California region, Hippocrates Circle bolsters self-esteem in students and helps them chart a path to success.

All Kaiser Permanente Southern California service areas participate in the program, with sessions conducted in the spring and/or fall. The Pasadena event hosted students from the Baldwin Park, Downey, Fontana, Ontario, Los Angeles, Orange County, Panorama City, South Bay, and West Los Angeles Medical Centers.

The morning started out with a lively greeting from Maria Carrasco, MD, Regional Hippocrates Circle Physician Leader. She noted that the day was focused totally on the students. “We want to support you in your future as college students and future doctors. We are here to help you reach your dream,” she said.

The students were then treated to a presentation of Someone Like Me, performed by Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre. The play addresses the issues of bullying and cyber bullying, and is designed as a springboard for discussions between students, teachers, parents and other trusted adults. It also models ways for students to reach out for help, (for themselves or their friends), should they need it.

After the performance, students had the opportunity to dissect lamb’s hearts and learn more about the functions of the human heart under the careful direction of their medical center mentors. They also visited with representatives from local medical and nursing schools, learned about Emergency Medical Services training, consulted with college financial aid experts, and got tips about healthy eating.   

All of the participants were attentive and engaged throughout the day’s events. As one student exclaimed, “I couldn't wait to get here today. This is the best thing ever! I know I can become a doctor now," she said.