Action Steps Students Can Take Right Now for a Career in Healthcare and STEM
August 30, 2022
Why might a motivated student want to already be thinking about this while still in high school?
Motivated students will want to think about this because there are various learning experiences they could take advantage of in high school to explore possibilities in healthcare. There are a variety of clinical and non-clinical careers in healthcare, like labor and delivery nurse or health IT (tech) professional. Students can get an early start on exploration through career and technical education (CTE), STEM studies, and enrichment clubs. Internships, job shadows and other hands-on experiences can bring the careers to life. Students might think they want to be a pediatrician until they really get an experience working with children. Or they might figure out that they don’t want to work with blood! Getting a headstart on learning about possibilities and qualifications can help young people decide what path they might want to take in healthcare.
A motivated student can think about taking 4 years of math and science, taking dual enrollment or dual credit college courses to get a headstart on coursework or even earn a certification that can get them working in the healthcare field right away. Skilled jobs in healthcare often require postsecondary credentials from a certification to 2 year, 4 year and graduate level degrees.
Outside of taking STEM classes, what else can they do to prepare at this level?
Beyond STEM classes here are a few things young people can do to prepare at this level:
- Join enrichment clubs like HOSA – a future health professionals student club
- Seek out internship or volunteer opportunities at hospitals, community health centers, or other community organizations (e.g. food pantries)
- Strengthen their communications skills; e.g. writing, speaking, and presenting
- Sign up to participate in any real-world challenges or project-based learning experiences.
- Look into joining competitions that give you the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge, passion, and ambition in science and STEM.
What’s something these students may not think about that could boost their resume?
- Teamwork experiences: in all kinds of fields/settings would provide a boost. Improving health and well-being is an interdisciplinary and team-based approach. The ability to work in a team to solve challenges, achieve goals, or complete projects is important for the healthcare setting.
- Customer service/communications: How you talk to people and how you treat people is an important aspect of the patient care experience.
- Opportunities or experiences that students have in community service from the marketing and promotions angle. Developing messaging to persuade and educate the public or using various tools to communicate are important strategies for public health.
- Bilingual or multilingual communications
How can school administrators, guidance counselors, etc. help students reach this goal?
Caring connected adults like administrators and guidance counselors can help students reach this goal by providing:
- Courses and programs to support health sciences career exploration and exposure (e.g. CTE health sciences)
- Provide opportunities for job shadows, career panels, career fairs, and mentoring programs connected with area healthcare centers (including smaller community-based clinics) and if possible, with professionals that reflect their student population
- Opportunities for dual enrollment/ dual credit with local colleges for early college credits and/or certification programs (e.g. Certified Nursing Asst.; Tech Support
- Opportunities for work-study experiences as part of the school day for internships beyond the summer
- Include real-world challenges in courses to demonstrate inquiry and application of subjects (e.g. have students learn about top health challenges in their community and work with area health professionals to develop solutions)
- Counselors should connect with healthcare professionals from in-demand fields and learn about their educational and professional journey to gain a better understanding of what’s required or helpful for students
- Counselors can share resources/information about colleges that have quality programs, supports, and higher graduation rates for students matching their student demographics (fit & match)
- Provide personal development experiences to help young people “see” themselves in the careers; build foundation for path ahead (studying strategies, opportunities for youth voice/input, agency or advocacy