After three years of planning and collaboration, SEAHEC and partners launched the first academic credit-bearing Future Health Leaders Summer Institute (FHLI) at Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC) in June, 2019. The Institute expands both SEAHEC Summer Camp programming, which SEAHEC has operated with the Tohono O’odham Nation for several years, and TOCC programming, by linking a summer learning experience with opportunities to earn credit towards college entrance or high school graduation. The two week-long summer course provides college credit and preparation to pursue a health career. The Institute’s goal is to help prepare Native American high school students for college life through growth in leadership, skill building, and self-sufficiency. Students can also earn college credit through TOCC’s Dual Enrollment Program, to transfer to an institution of higher education or apply credits earned toward high school graduation. Meanwhile, participants explore a variety of healthcare professions available in their community.
The Institute’s objectives are aimed at improving chances of success in college. They include:
- Reduce fear of attending college-by familiarizing students with forms, applications, college setting and college skills and concepts.
- Provide grounding in Tohono O’odham cultural practices linking health benefits to traditions of the O’odham people which inspires cultural exploration, pride and an attitude of self-worth.
- Help high school students explore various healthcare professions- by providing college campus and health care institution tours and contact with health professionals to learn first-hand about what health careers are like.
- Earn college credit that will transfer to a higher education institution or satisfy high school graduation requirements.
Eight students participated in the FHLI pilot program. The majority were 11th and 12th graders with one 10th grader and one recent high school graduate. Students represented five tribal groups and six high schools. All but two were female.
Student Evaluation of the Pilot Program
Five of the eight participants responded to an exit survey. Results indicated the course was very successful.
Eighty percent of students felt they had gained an understanding of health professions and potential career choices, felt they were academically prepared for college and confident in their ability to perform well in a college course.
Sixty percent of participants felt empowered to become a health professional and had career goals in place.
Asked for a final summation, one student said, “Very successfully beneficial and would do it all over again if I had the opportunity again.” Another said, “The CPH 101 Course gave me a lot of information and [I’m] looking forward to use that information. Thank you. It is a great class.”
Daniel Sestiaga, Jr., B.S. TOCC Pre-College Outreach Coordinator developed and taught the lecture component of the course (Careers in Public Health 101 Lecture) which provides direct contact with professionals from allied, public, administrative and professional practice health careers. Students are required to attend class, complete daily discussions, take a mid-term exam and develop and present a final project showcasing lessons learned. Students gave their presentations on the last day of class.
The practical component of the pilot included three college campus tours, as well as tours of the local fire department and Tohono O’odham Behavioral Health Services. In addition, 16 students obtained CPR and First Aid Training certifications. There was also scholarship, advisement and program grant support information offered by the American Indian College Fund. For cultural grounding, students also participated in a basket weaving workshop, and to blow off steam and build group dynamics, students participated in a dinner and movie night, and took in a Diamond Backs baseball game against the L.A. Dodgers.
Campus & Agency Tours
A.T. STILL University:
FHLI students, facilitators and coordinators traveled to Gilbert, Arizona to tour A.T. STILL University where students learned about the campus, attended a GERonTologic simulator (GERT) Suit simulation to gain perspectives on aging and experience the 3D Anatomy Lab. They also had opportunities to speak with other Native health professionals in Osteopathic Medicine, Orthodontic/ Dental practice and Physical Therapy
University of Arizona Health Sciences:
Students visited the University of Arizona in Tucson and toured the Arizona Health Sciences Center, to learn about careers in Pharmacy, Nursing, Public Health and Medicine. Sponsored by UA College of Medicine’s Arizona Indians into Medicine Program (InMed), the tour also included exploration of the Arizona Simulation Technology & Education Center (ASTEC) Simulations Lab and an introduction to InMED, which seeks to “Enhance the recruitment, retention and graduation rates of Native health professional students.”
Pima Community College:
Students toured the West Campus in Tucson to learn about Allied Health career training available at the college, which includes: Dental Hygienist, Dental Assistant, Emergency Medical Technician, Massage Therapy, Health Information Technology, Clinical Research Coordinator, Medical Assistant, Medical Laboratory Technician, Pharmacy Technology, Phlebotomy, Radiologic Technology, Respiratory Care, and Veterinary Science.
Tohono O’odham Behavioral Health Services:
Students engaged in a workshop for Suicide Prevention and healthy relationships hosted by Tohono O’odham behavioral health services. This was especially insightful for students because there had been three suicides within the O’odham community in a month’s time. It is also a much needed support program for youth in the community.
Sells Fire Department
At the local fire department, students learned about what it takes to become a firefighter, paramedic or emergency medical technician. They also learned about recruitment opportunities.