From High School to Health Care: Lab and Data Science Pathways for Success
The High School 2 Health Care (HS2HC) program is comprised of a summer program and a dual enrollment course that educates high school students and their teachers about careers in CLS and PHIT, while guiding them in developing hands-on skills that give them the opportunity to experience what these careers would entail. HS2HC aligns with the NIH Research Education Program goal of increasing the number of qualified, trained health professionals to meet the nation’s needs. A teacher professional development program focused on integration of NGSS and CLS and PHIT content, along with career awareness will also be implemented. Through high school and community partnerships, online, and mobile resources we will disseminate educational curricula, materials, and research outcomes to enhance community health-based literacy. We will encourage the addition of our program into the NGSS and CTE standards for Tennessee by communication with educators and policy makers.
The CoVID-19 pandemic amplified the stress of existing critical shortages of allied health professionals, especially in rural communities and underserved populations. Careers including clinical laboratory sciences (CLS) and public health information technology (PHIT) are less well promoted as other health professions in K-12 schools, increasing the struggle for professional programs to recruit undergraduate students. Critical needs exist for novel educational programs and training methods that promote and increase interest amongst high students about CLS and PHIT fields. The High School 2 Health Care (HS2HC) program is comprised of a summer program and a dual enrollment course that educates high school students and their teachers about careers in CLS and PHIT, while guiding them in developing hands-on skills that give them the opportunity to experience what these careers would entail. HS2HC aligns with the NIH Research Education Program goal of increasing the number of qualified, trained health professionals to meet the nation’s needs. Our program targets rural communities in West Tennessee where professional health care shortages have been exceptionally damaging and seeks to enhance opportunities in CLS and PHIT for underserved student populations. We will use novel outcomes-based educational approaches that apply project-based learning strategies to real-world social determinants of health scenarios and work-based simulation strategies with real clinical data and samples. A teacher professional development program focused on integration of NGSS and CLS and PHIT content, along with career awareness will also be implemented. A quasi-experimental mixed methods design will be used to assess awareness and knowledge and skills development in CLS and PHIT focus groups, quantitative content analysis from a dual enrollment course and a summer program, and teacher and student interviews will be used to assess effectiveness of the outcomes-based curricular design approach we use to teach interdisciplinary PHIT and CLS content, understand how rural high school students acquire knowledge regarding PHIT and CLS professions using our learning approach, and whether our approach increases student interest and the number of students choosing Career and Technical Education (CTE) and undergraduate pathways in these careers. Our unique population compositions in Lauderdale and McNairy Counties in West Tennessee will provide insight into the impact of cultural and social differences in learning acquisition for CLS and PHIT concepts, thereby allowing us to uniquely tailor our experiences to different community and cultural settings. Through high school and community partnerships, online, and mobile resources we will disseminate educational curricula, materials, and research outcomes to enhance community health-based literacy. We will encourage the addition of our program into the NGSS and CTE standards for Tennessee by communication with educators and policy makers.
The overarching goal of the dissemination plan is to increase awareness of the project, communicate pertinent information to all stakeholders, and to promote active participation in the program at all levels. To accomplish this, we will use a unique variety of options to engage in outreach. Website. A dedicated user-friendly and easy to navigate website will be active within one month of receiving funding. This will serve as the keystone for this program and will be the hub for research data pertaining to the project, a resource for information about project opportunities, developments in the program, successes and photo sharing of participant activities, teaching materials, a data repository and a contact site for participants. We will monitor access to the website. We will create a digital repository of slides, images and other online laboratory materials on the website that can be used by high school teachers in West Tennessee and beyond to enhance clinical laboratory training for students. Our digital and online content and curricula, laboratory videos, and other resources will be available for teachers to access and download from our site with lesson plans that outline how best to use the materials in the classroom. We can also use the web site to create a secure access point to our Spark cluster that can be accessed by students and faculty for some of our unique patient data sets. We will also pursue making the content available through the State of Tennessee CTE educators’ site, which can be easily accessed by all educators. A dedicated URL has been assigned for our project at UTHSC. Meetings and Presentations. We will seek to engage all stakeholders and will reach out to the community through attending board meetings, community outreach events, and presentations at regional and national conferences, such as teacher education and science education conferences. These conferences will be selected to target the health informatics and information management national educators’ community and professional clinical laboratory organizations. These include the American Health Information Management Association Assembly on Education meeting, the Clinical Laboratory Educator’s Conference (CLEC), the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) annual conferences, and the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Sciences regional and National Meetings. We will also attend state and national meetings of HOSA – Future Health Professionals, an international career and technical student organization endorsed by the US Department of Education (DOE). To engage the community, we will have 2-3 evening presentations for community members, family, and friends. Social Media Platforms.
Other innovative ways that we plan to share our findings and outcomes include a variety of social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube) that will be used to share the word about our programs, spark interest in high school students and faculty, and to promote laboratory and data science professions. As part of the dissemination plan, we can use social media to promote knowledge about health and healthy living topics, promote program events, provide important data and statistics about the program, and to promote the program to community stakeholders. Webinars about programmatic content will also be disseminated throughout the program duration. Leaflets and posters. Another primary mechanism of program promotion and information sharing will occur through the dissemination of leaflets and posters that promote course offerings, promotional events, interesting outcomes, and other pertinent materials. To ensure rapid and easy access to data, program information, applications, and other materials, we will generate a unique QR code that directs interested parties and stakeholders directly to our website. This code will be placed on all promotional and informational materials that are disseminated. An initial program has been developed. Collaboration and Data Sharing. This project will create a large data set that will contribute to the body of literature promoting laboratory and data science career programs in high schools throughout the United States. Research pertaining to the pedagogical approaches used in this study will contribute to the body of knowledge pertaining to improving understanding of laboratory and data science careers in high school students, reach faculty and counselors in high school and college settings with limited knowledge of these careers, improve available academic curricula and materials that can better prepare students for careers in laboratory and data science, and generate a model systems approach that can be implemented in similar regions throughout the United States to increase pre-professional training for laboratory and data science professions nationwide. We will share our curricular materials with other academic settings who would be interested in including this content into new or existing programs. In addition, this project will open the door for collaborative projects that promote the mission and goals for advancement of training and education for laboratory and data science careers. Through data sharing agreements, research information can be shared with other institutions to yield productive arrangements that facilitate the development of similar projects in a variety of settings. Based on these comments we will include the use of videos that capture the experiences of the parties and will include videos that statewide employers could provide for the students, HS teachers and guidance counselors to improve knowledge of the field and job opportunities. UTHSC has existing clinical affiliation agreements with many health care organizations in the region and State of TN. (Potential strength is our clinical affiliates for our programs which our students currently use and a strong alumni base as resources). Family nights. Two to three times per semester and once over the summer, UTHSC and UTM faculty will present a family night seminar sharing information from the program and select topics regarding the social determinants of health (SDoH). Topics of interest may include but are not limited to management of personal health records, interpreting personal laboratory data, men’s and women’s health, managing chronic diseases, how to handle and reduce stress, infectious diseases like COVID, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/ Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), Pap tests, and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Tests. Other mechanisms for dissemination of content and community engagement. Some additional examples of outreach and engagement include going out to give lectures and workshops in the community and at high schools about SDoH, health care concepts, career fairs, and service-based learning programs where faculty get involved in health care-related opportunities. We will leverage our existing relationships with existing health care systems and our alumni base to be guest speakers and to provide programmatic content. We can also use meetings of the Boards in Selmer and Ripley to disseminate workshops for guidance counselors and TNCTE regional directors who have quarterly meetings. Mechanisms to reach underrepresented minorities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and individuals with disabilities. To reach these individuals in our target groups, we will seek to facilitate resource sharing that lacks unhealthy competition amongst groups and that promotes pride and the contributions of individuals from all ethnic minorities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and individuals with disabilities. Diversity will be discussed and valued to mainstream participants in all programs. The program will consistently engage in training that evaluates all members’ levels of implicit bias, prejudices, and racist attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors and educates them on means to mitigate and eliminate these issues throughout the program. To promote the program and to disseminate outcomes, we will seek to particularly engage and recruit parents or guardians, other family members, and other members of the community as allies and promote clarification of accurate information. We will engage minority-associated community organizations, churches, and established groups as a dissemination resource into the communities in which we are working. Our community outreach will include in person, mobile, and online resources that maximally expand the impact of resources throughout the community within these groups. Printed materials will also be designed to target minorities, rural citizens, and individuals with disabilities and their families. All existing educational resources will be adapted to accommodate students, teachers, and community members with disabilities. Feedback obtained from participants and community members in these groups will be used to modify and/or improve dissemination of outcomes of the program.
The HS2HC program will target High School students in the 9th-12th grades in rural counties of Western Tennessee, in addition to providing mentorship and support to high school teachers in STEM sciences.
Our program seeks to create pathways to clinical laboratory and data science careers, particularly for rural and underserved students by providing skill-enhancement and academic programs for high school students and professional development for their teachers. Our curriculum will include hands-on activities that teach students and teachers about areas of laboratory sciences including, but not limited to, microbiology, hematology, chemistry, immunology, and molecular sciences. Our materials will also explore aspects of data science including the study of real-time health data, extraction of community health data from large data sets, the role of the electronic medical record in public and personal health, and how health data is used to track and maintain community health and wellness programs.