"Don't talk to me! I'm SO excited right now! exclaimed the young man to one of his buddies. They had just arrived on the campus of Western University of Health Sciences (WUHS). As they donned the starched white coats embroidered with the university's seal, their expressions noticeably brightened - broad smiles spreading across their faces. There was no doubt, even to the casual observer, that this seemingly innocuous act of putting on a lab coat was having a huge effect on them. It looked like pride in their eyes, and for the nearly 80 students in attendance, it was a source of hope for their futures. This moment really touched us, but we're getting ahead of the story...
We're talking about Health Sciences Day, one of many new projects we have forged with Western University of Health Sciences. Students are often unaware of the local higher education opportunities available to them as part of the health workforce pipeline, so events like this help to bridge that gap. The team of administrators and professors at Western U put together a comprehensive program highlighting the colleges of Allied Health, Optometry, Nursing and Osteopathic Medicine.
There were many interactive activities planned for the high school guests, who represented Grand Terrace, Colony, Alta Loma, and Chino Hills high schools. Time flew by as students heard presentations and engaged with current Western U students who mentored them throughout the day. From auscultation (listening for the heart, lung, and other organs), to optometric tests, and use of patient care manikins to track muscle movement, it was truly a day of learning. Probably the one activity they weren't expecting was when they were each handed a straw and instructed to begin climbing up and down the lobby's central staircase breathing through the straw (OK we admit some of us struggled even without the straws!). It's tough to do and was meant to simulate the difficulty in breathing that lung disease patients suffer. Sufficiently winded, they then had their blood oxygen levels checked for changes. They day was well organized and every student some individual attention and the opportunity to participate in each of the interactive activities.
Thank you to our friends at Western U for providing these students an experience that will certainly stay with them. More importantly, thank you for giving them the sense of pride that they felt at being a part of your mission, even if just for a day.