Pre-healthcareer students at UC DavisIn the wee hours of dawn this last Saturday, at 4:00 am, five Skyline College and six Cañada College students in the new patient navigator program gathered at Stanford to board a bus for the 12th annual UC Davis Pre-Medicine & Pre-Health Career National Conference held October 11-12. After shaking off the long drive and stunted slumber, students took a variety of workshops over the two days with admissions specialists, academic faculty, employers, working professionals and other community college and university students pursuing interests in multiple health science disciplines.  The objective of the annual conference is “to introduce and support academic, admission and preparatory opportunities for all students interested in health professions with a focus on those underrepresented in healthcare (with regard to gender, economic, social, educational, linguistic, cultural, racial, and ethnic background).”

All five students are currently enrolled in the new patient navigator program—a partnership between SMCCD and Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI). Through this program, students acquire a breadth of skills to guide medically underserved and linguistically isolated patient populations (many of whom have more healthcare choices due to the Affordable Care Act) through the healthcare delivery system. AACI generously awarded full scholarships for each of these students to attend the 2 day conference—including transportation, meals and hotel stay.

At the conference, students registered for workshops in the discipline areas of medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy or public health, whichever most closely matched their educational and career interests. Workshops covered topics from “The Future of Nursing” to “Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Healthcare” to “MCAT: Learn the Facts from the Test” and so much more.

While the workshops provided valuable tips on preparing for advanced education in healthcare, perhaps the most satisfying aspect of the conference was the opportunity to connect with and learn from other students from community colleges, high schools and universities with shared interests. As one student put it, “It was so motivating to see all of the other students like me who wanted to go into nursing. Sometimes I think I’m the only one, but there were so many other students there with the same interests as me and that was really motivating.”

Article by Paul Rueckhaus | Photo by Anna Jung