University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Vermont Medicine Magazine

AHEC Conference, Programs, Promote Health Careers to High School Students

A Vermont high school student observes Paul Zimakas, M.D. examining a patient.
As part of the AHEC MedQuest program, a Vermont high school student observes pediatric endocrinologist Paul Zimakas, M.D., as he examines a patient. Promoting health careers is an important part of the AHEC mission. (Photo by Andy Duback, UVM Medical Photography)

The University of Vermont (UVM) College of Medicine Office of Primary Care and the UVM Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program promote health care careers to Vermont middle and high school students through several initiatives, including an annual health careers conference; the MedQuest Health Careers Exploration Program; Health Careers Shadow days; and Health Career Exploration classroom visits.

The fourth annual, one-day “Focus on Health Careers Conference,” which is organized and co-sponsored by the Champlain Valley AHEC, was held on October 27, 2012 in the Medical Education Center at the UVM College of Medicine. The conference is designed to serve Vermont high school students who are interested in learning more about the health care field, and provides attendees with an opportunity to explore health careers in high demand in Vermont; interact with health care professionals and students and discuss the work and academic requirements of health care careers; learn strategies and resources for making the most of high school opportunities; and prepare for the transition to college. Students had to apply for acceptance into the event, which included such workshops as: "Caring Across Cultures"; "Cutting-Edge Technology and Medicine"; "Community Health & Mental Health"; "Infectious Disease & Public Health Crises"; and "Obesity Prevention & Healthy Lifestyles." After lunch, students explored various exhibits, with several demonstrations by area health career students on basic health care skills, such as taking blood pressure, identifying digital images, pharmacy skills, neurological exams, and taking postural assessments.

The MedQuest Program offers one-week, residential summer sessions for high school students interested in gaining in-depth exposure to health care careers and includes lectures, tours, and job shadows. The Health Careers Shadow days allow students to spend a day exploring a health career by shadowing a professional in the field. Classroom visits from AHEC representatives engage students in health careers discussions using hands-on tools of the trade and a well-developed curriculum. 

Based at the UVM College of Medicine, the Vermont AHEC Program collaborates with partners across the state to improve access to quality healthcare through a focus on workforce development. This includes pipeline programs in health careers awareness and exploration for youth in communities across the state; support for and engagement of health professions students at the University of Vermont and residents at Fletcher Allen Health Care; and programs designed to recruit and retain the healthcare workforce in Vermont.

Learn more about the Office of Primary Care and AHEC Program at UVM at http://www.uvm.edu/medicine/ahec/.