With so many different career options in STEM,
we wanted to inspire students to explore career paths that aren’t always popularized in the media or on a TV show.
A culminating highlight of The Institute's on-campus Master of Public Health program is the opportunity for students to take what they've learned out into the field. Our internship profile series looks at how they've applied what they learned to their own interests in improving health and health care.
Sayoni Saha, MPH '17 and Sarah Bessen, MPH '17
Public Health Issue to Address:
The number of jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields is rapidly increasing in the U.S. However, only 16 percent of high school graduates are interested in a career in STEM, and only 28 percent of undergraduate students choose STEM majors. We wanted to encourage high school students in the Upper Valley to pursue careers in STEM and health care through hosting focused panels and providing one-on-one mentorship.
We developed a 6-8-week educational program that we pitched to local high schools. We had the opportunity to implement our program at Hanover High School, the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center, and the Ledyard Charter School. Each week, we focused on a different topic in a STEM or health care domain. For our week on careers in surgery, we incorporated a banana suturing activity and led a panel with current medical students.
What was most rewarding was helping students learn about the collaborative nature of STEM and health care, including the less visible roles involved in the delivery of patient care. For example, we taught a case study on a celebrity who had a knee replacement. The case study was aimed at moving past the typical answers to the question, “Who was involved in the celebrity’s care?” We would get answers like surgeon, or anesthesiologist, or nurse, which are all correct and important. To get students to think more outside the box, we would ask, “But, have you thought about who’s the engineer that designs the joint that’s being replaced?” We then discussed how the roles that insurance providers or x-ray technicians play could also influence the care of a patient undergoing surgery.
Both of us will be attending medical school next year and we are excited to see first-hand how different career paths intersect in health care delivery. With so many different career options in STEM, we wanted to inspire students to explore career paths that aren’t always popularized in the media or on a TV show.