Mayo Clinic Partners With Schools to Offer a Head Start on Healthcare Careers

May 23, 2014 7:11 pm

Mayo Clinic partners with schools to offer a head start on health care careers

May 23, 2014 • RST


Mayo Clinic Health Science Career Program

Photo by Shutterstock

Did your high school offer classes in nursing or laboratory science? Probably not. But, Rochester Public School District does, with help from Mayo Clinic and Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC).

About 270 area high school students are enrolled in the Health Science Career Program, says Jon Ninas, Human Resources. An introductory course covers anatomy, physiology, medical terminology and career exploration. Follow-up courses focus on nursing; therapeutic medicine, such as physical therapy and occupational therapy; and laboratory science.

“The nursing course is by far the most popular,” says Ninas. The curriculum includes all the learning and hands- on experience needed to test for a nursing assistant certification, awarded with college credits through RCTC.

“Students’ pass rate averages 92 percent and has been as high as 98 percent,” he says. “That’s one of the highest rates in the state.”

Health Science courses are taught in 85-minute blocks and meet for a semester. Students can drive or take the bus to the career center at 3033 41st St. N.W. from any Rochester public high school. Students from surrounding communities or private schools are welcome to open enroll.

In many ways, the Heath Science Careers Program is drawing diverse students. “We’re attracting students who want to be scientists, doctors or nurses, and want a head start,” says Ninas. “On the flip side, students enroll who don’t know their career path yet and might use these skills immediately to help support their families.”

The school also attracts racially diverse students. Nearly 40 percent of health science students are racially diverse.

“The courses bring together students who might not otherwise cross paths often in their own schools,” he says. “Some of them are great at bookwork, and some are great at hands-on skill. They tend to lift each other up.”

Mayo Clinic has supported this program since its inception eight years ago, in part, to help develop the next generation of successful employees, as well as increase diversity in its workplace. Already, more than 100 program graduates work at Mayo.

“Many more hope to return when they finish their postsecondary education,” says Ninas, who visits the school at least twice a month to get to know students. He stays in contact with more than 1,000 graduates via Facebook.

Ninas expects that program’s steady growth and interconnection with Mayo Clinic will continue. Each Health Science teacher is supported by a community advisory committee with many Mayo Clinic participants. The groups meet a few times a year to discuss curriculum, what’s happening in the workplace and what students need to be prepared for college or work. Mayo Clinic employees from many disciplines volunteer as guest speakers in classrooms or assist in laboratories.

Volunteers are always welcome to speak to Health Science Career Program classes about careers or participate in other programs for high school students.