Charting Your Path to a Healthcare Career: Over 450 Students Connect to Healthcare and STEM

On October 16th, over 450 students attended Charting Your Path to a Healthcare Career event, hosted by the King County Healthcare Industry Leadership Table (HILT) and other community partners.

Almost 60 healthcare professionals representing over 20 healthcare providers such as SeaMar Community Health, Kaiser Permanente, Healthpoint, Swedish, and others that shared their experiences with students, answered a wide variety of questions around healthcare careers, and gave insight into their professional journeys. Community organizations that supported the event included Washington STEM, Seattle Public Schools, the City of Seattle, Work Source, Seattle Jobs Initiative, and many, many more.

“When I go into a room and it’s a minority patient and they tell me they’ve rarely ever seen a Black male physician, I’m glad that I’m there for them, but also very sad that it’s a rarity. It doesn’t have to be that way…” (Dr. Ali Thomas, Kaiser Permanente)

Charting Your Path to a Healthcare Career is focused on providing access and opportunities for students to meet with healthcare professionals. We know that doctors make doctors. If you do not have those kinds of people in your family, then there are conversations that you are just not a part of,” said Learning and Talent Management Specialist at Kaiser Permanente Breanna Jackson. Students in the Greater Seattle area from grades 8-12th got to walk through provider recruitment booths, occupation stations, and education pathway information desks.  Jackson herself said she was ecstatic to meet a Black female Pediatrician for the first time at this event as they only represent two percent of the nation’s physicians.

“Healthcare desperately needs people, and we need to expose them to everything that’s available in healthcare at an early age,” said Healthpoint representative Tracy Phillips.

“Mentorship, mentorship, mentorship all along the way. I cannot stress that enough for all the youth that are here today. That’s how you get access to things like job shadowing.” (Dr. Jasmin Zavala, SeaMar Community Health)

Inclusivity, representation, and accessibility in STEM are all factors that lead to success for students and this was evident at HILT’s Charting Your Path to a Healthcare Career event. It was clear that students at the event were dressed for success as some had scrubs on with dreams of being a Medical Assistant or Nurse, which is great news since both professions are some of the highest in demand in the region. Washington STEM’s 2019 STEM by the Numbers report shows that in the King County region, on average, there are 2,612 job openings for Medical Assistants and Nurses. These students are well on their way to a STEM career pathway that will lead to family wage jobs.

“Personally, for me, healthcare was always something I’ve wanted to do, so I was like I need to start somewhere. We talked to someone at Healthpoint and she was talking about the MA and PA program how there are different options available for internships. (Swati Purushothaman)

By having a dedicated space to explore different career options, students had the chance to connect with someone who might look like them in a career path they never saw possible for themselves. “If this event wasn’t possible, maybe there would be another group at some point that would figure out how to do it, but the fact that HILT went first and said we are going to go ahead and give this a try to show other groups that this is possible, is really special,” said Jackson.

Events like HILT’s Charting Your Path to a Healthcare Career are part of a larger continuum of experiences, programs, and systems alignment work that Washington STEM is supporting across the state to increase access and opportunity to STEM education and careers. We’re joining communities across Washington to create clear through lines from classroom to career, developing equitable career pathways models, and working to ensure that every student has meaningful exposure, access, and is ultimately launched into a STEM career, if they choose that path for themselves.

We are striving to move this work forward every day at Washington STEM and will continue working with the Healthcare Industry Leadership Table (HILT), and other partners in the state to make STEM education possible for every student.

Check out more photos from Charting Your Path to a Healthcare Career: