Fourth ‘Pathway to Success’ High School Health Career Fair Makes Impact for Underrepresented

Illustration of different pathways in health career fieldsGetting started was a bit more hectic with more than 30 non-RSVP attendees showing up for the fourth public event hosted by the Graduate Medical Education (GME) Office at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson South and Banner – University Medical Center South on the evening of Feb. 20, 2019.

The idea of physicians in training in the UA Internal Medicine Residency Program – South Campus to open up the health professions to teens who may be from traditionally underrepresented groups, this “Pathway to Success” high school health career fair has been held five times (one was for UA/Banner employees). See below for video and photo gallery links.

Internal medicine residents Daniel Orta, MD (PGY3), and Gianna O’Hara, DO (PGY2), appeared on KGUN9-TV’s Morning Blend program Feb. 14 as a teaser for the event. To view that broadcast, see this link to the KGUN Facebook webpage.

UA Internal Medicine Residency Program - South Campus members, Drs. Gianna O'Hara and Danny Orta on KGUN9's Morning Blend to promote high school health career fair, Feb. 14.

Commenting on the rationale behind the health career fair, Dr. Orta said, “We want high school students from Tucson to know that if you’ve dreamt it, it’s possible! A lot of them are told they can’t and we want to open their eyes to the many possibilities that are available in the health care field.”

Lauren Wright, GME senior program coordinator for the fair, added, “This was the best one yet! We had so many great volunteers who were ready to show the students why they love their careers. The students were very engaged and eager to learn, contributing to the overall excitement in the room. We have some fresh ideas to make the October 2019 event even better, so stay tuned!” 

Image of facebook post on photo album from 4th 'Pathway to Success' high school health career fairIn all, 135 participants (81 students, 46 guests, including parents, and eight teachers) along with more than 50 volunteers (UA and Banner staff, faculty, fellows, residents and medical students) filled the La Galería conference room off the hospital cafeteria. A few others showed up later. Several high school students spoke of how excited they were at the opportunity to learn more about medical professions. 

Click here or on the image at right for a photo album posted to the UA Department of Medicine facebook webpage.

Drs. Orta and Ainapurapu watch Dr. A's son learn CPROne participant was Bujji Ainapurapu, MD, and his son. Dr. Ainapurapu is associate program director for the UA Internal Medicine Residency Program – South Campus, a hospitalist and an assistant professor with the Division of Inpatient Medicine.

Since the event began right after work and lasted until 7:30 p.m., everyone was fed first with a Mexican buffet-style dinner. After introductions by internal medicine resident Dr. Orta, and a few inspirational talks by locals who made good in health careers — this year, Sommer Aldulaimi, MD, and Iliane Lepro, RN — a $500 scholarship was given to Eleanor Herrington. A senior at Ironwood Ridge High School, she was among several who submitted essays on why they were interested in working in medicine. Herrington wants to be a nurse.

After the scholarship award, attendees split up by group with several staying to make rounds of the health career booths and hands-on demonstrations from intubating a patient, performing ultrasounds and CPR. Others headed out for tours by resident physicians of all areas of the hospital from surgery to critical care to medical imaging to the ER to the pharmacy. When one tour finished, they return to La Galería and another group headed out.

Sixteen schools were represented compared to three at the first such health career fair in 2017. Major attendance was from Pueblo, Sunnyside, Empire and Amphitheater High Schools. For more on past events and applying for the high school scholarship, see the “Pathway to Success” webpage at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson website.

“Outstanding job team! This type of event allows us to engage our community in a relevant way while reminding us of our commitment to improve our community. Thanks to the residents, students, staff – and anyone who gave of their time! Thank you for keeping the vision alive,” said Victoria Murrain, DO, UA College of Medicine – Tucson deputy dean for Diversity and Inclusion, assistant dean for Graduate Medical Education, South Campus designated institutional official and an associate professor of Family and Community Medicine.

In her address the next day for African American Heritage Month (view the video here), Dr. Murrain noted the career fair as one of the key community outreach efforts for South Campus with respect to diversity and inclusion goals. Another she pointed out was a Spanish-language "tertulia" program, or social gathering, to encourage residents, fellows and other physicians to Dr. Victoria Murrain delivering African American Heritage Month address at University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson on Feb. 21, 2019improve their communication skills with a key demographic in Tucson. Hispanics/Latinos make up 34.5 percent of the population in Pima County and 41.5 percent in Tucson—43.2 percent of the population under age 18 being Hispanic/Latino, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. That language program, which will soon expand to the Banner - UMC Tucson campus, was the idea of Dr. Orta and Roberto Swazo, MD, South Campus chief resident for internal medicine. The career fair was the brainchild of Dr. Swazo and Norm Beatty, MD, a former South Campus internal medicine resident and current UA Infectious Diseases Fellow.

All of them, Drs. Beatty, Murrain, O'Hara, Orta and Swazo, along with Wright, are among members of the organizing committee for the Pathway to Success high school health career fair. Others include:

  • Michael Bernaba, MD, resident (PGY1), UA Internal Medicine Residency Program – South Campus
  • Nicholas Blackstone, MD, resident (PGY1), UA Internal Medicine Residency Program – South Campus
  • Mary Gosciminski, program manager, UA Internal Medicine Residency Program – South Campus
  • Agnes Attakai, MPA, director, Health Disparities Outreach Prevention Education, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
  • Graham Benner, RRT, supervisor, Respiratory Care, Banner – UMC South

Oh, and did we mention? — Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat, the UA mascots were there. BEAR DOWN!!! (Click images to enlarge):

Wilma and Wilbur with internal medicine residency program's Dr. Mateen Khokhar, Mary Gosciminski and Dr. Roberto Swazo  Wilbur listens in with high school students at the Labor & Delivery booth during health career fair  Wilma watches ultrasound of Dr. Wei Xiang Wong by high school student at health career fair  Drs. Roberto Swazo and Buji Ainapurapu check out Wilbur's heart rate at high school health career fair

Questions? Email Lauren Wright:

This event was hosted by the UA College of Medicine – Tucson Graduate Medical Education Office at South Campus, the UA Health Sciences Office of Diversity & Inclusion and Banner – University Medicine.

“College of Medicine's career fair looks to reach high school students”(UA Daily Wildcat) Posted Feb. 12, 2019
“Tucson High Schoolers to Explore Careers in Medicine, Other Health Professions, Feb. 20” | Posted Feb. 4, 2019
“Tucson High Schoolers to Explore Careers in Medicine Oct. 17” | Posted Oct. 9, 2018
“Save Date for 2nd Annual High School Health Career Fair at Banner – UMC South, Feb. 27” | Posted Jan. 26, 2018
“High School Students Pack House for First-Ever Banner – UMC South Health Career Fair” | Posted April 15, 2017
“South Campus Residents Push Health Care Jobs for the Underprivileged at April 11 Career Fair” | Posted April 6, 2017

Release Date: 
02/27/2019 - 9:00pm