Alabama Schweitzer Fellow, Autumn Beavers MS2, is collaborating with Carver High School’s Academy of Health Sciences program in the 2019-2020 school year to implement a curriculum that increases students’ exposure to professional health careers. Beavers, who is partnering on the project with Carmel McNicholas, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology, seeks to foster a strong sense of community, while also addressing issues such as self-esteem, academic confidence, and professional development.
The Academy of Health Sciences (AOHS) at Carver High School caters to students who are interested in medical or health careers. AOHS is a part of Career Academies, a city-wide program launched by Birmingham City Schools a few years ago to help students jump-start their professions. Students take courses and field trips, network, and intern in areas related to their interests. Currently, the Career Academies is tailored to engineering, health sciences, and animation.
Beavers’ curriculum at Carver includes up-to-date, modern teachings on health care. For example, she recently led a wound care workshop using a simulation lab on-site and moulages crafted by David Mathews, photographer and medical moulage artist in the Office of Interprofessional Simulation. The students were able to interact with the moulages in a hands-on experience, creating a real-life simulation of treating trauma patients. The lab and moulages allowed the patient-dummies to have real, bleeding wounds. She has also led CPR training for the students.
On Beavers’ involvement at AOHS, Cynthia Kelley, an educator at Carver, stated: “Autumn has been an inspiration to me and the students here at Carver High. She always brings something interesting to the classroom. She has helped open their eyes to be all that they can be. Autumn is a great part of our program.”
The School of Medicine communications team sat down with Autumn to learn about her experience.
When did the collaboration between UAB and AOHS start?
My Albert Schweitzer project at Carver High School began three years ago. It was established by a former Albert Schweitzer fellow, David Osula. I was a mentor for the program during my first year of medical school. In May 2019, I became a fellow.
What are the goals of the collaboration?
Our goal is to inspire local high school students in their pursuit of higher educationand careers in health care, as well as to equip them with the skills, experiences, andsupport that they need to be successful. The Health Science Academy is made up ofsophomores, juniors, and seniors who have expressed an interest in pursuing acareer in health care. We hope to foster their curiosities by exposing them to various health care professions through hands-on activities, networking, and education.
What outcomes have you seen so far?
In October, Brian Sims, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, spoke with the students about his journey to medicine and the field of Neonatology. The students were so intrigued! After learning about the challenges that many families with premature babies face, one student said, "I want to be a family therapist even more. Because when people go through all of this, they can come and talk to me about the situation, and I'll be able to help." Moreover, 32 juniors and seniors have completed a CPR certification course with Jerry King, M.A.Ed, RRT, associate professor in the School of Health Professions.
How can this type of mentorship and education have a lasting impact on today’s high school students?
One of the barriers faced by many underrepresented populations pursuing health professions is limited exposure to and knowledge of health careers. What we strive to do with our program is ensure that students have health-related experiences and networking opportunities with local health professionals early on, so that they can make well-informed career choices. In hindsight, my personal journey to medical school was greatly impacted by meaningful medical experiences and meeting medical doctors who looked like me, encouraged me, and supported me. My hope is that this program is a pathway for our students to not only pursue their dream, but to also discover a sense of purpose in their communities.
Beavers is mentored by Latesha Elopre, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases, Kristin R. Boggs, MSW, executive director of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship of Alabama, and Cynthia Kelley, a Carver High School educator. Her involvement with the Career Academies stems from her participation in the Schweitzer Fellowship program, a state-wide, competitive program that chooses students in a variety of graduate programs, most from health-focused disciplines. It is designed to implement community-based prevention and intervention projects that address chronic health problems, as well as the social determinants of health, such as poverty, the environment, and education.