For communities of color, the access to health care has been shown to be a serious obstacle to health and wellness during the pandemic. A major aspect of that has been the underrepresentation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) populations within the work force especially in clinical roles.
“For young people from communities of color, seeing someone that looks like you is so critical to connecting to the profession and believing they can also follow that path” said Alana Casey, Occupational Therapist, Spaulding Rehab. Recently staff from Spaulding’s Equity Dignity and Respect Council presented to a group of students from Charlestown High School’s Early College and Career Health Pathway for a virtual career day, bringing together predominantly BIPOC students and speakers, to learn about career options in health care.
From taking students into a ground-breaking robotics lab to learning about what day in the life of a nurse is like to how therapists help patients re-learn daily tasks, the team brought students into all aspects of the hospital. “Our goal was to introduce students to the wide variety of jobs a hospital can offer and speak to their interests. Most importantly we wanted them to know that these jobs were possible as many of us presenting sat in their seats as youth,” Magdalena Lemoine-Clerdonna, Human Resources, Spaulding Rehab.
Charlestown High School is an open-enrollment Boston Public School serving 800 students from all across the city. CHS offers three Early College Pathways in partnership with Bunker Hill Community College. In the Health Pathway, students earn college credits, practice interacting with patients, and explore medical careers. Sarah Grimmett, who teaches the Health Pathway introductory course, said that “the primary focus of our Pathway is exposing students to as many medical careers and settings as possible. Students loved seeing Spaulding’s different departments and meeting so many professionals who looked like them.”
One of the Health Pathway students, 10th grader Ariana, reflected on her virtual experience at Spaulding saying: “My favorite room at Spaulding was the Physical Therapy room because the rewalk machine was so cool and interesting! There are different settings to help people learn to walk again. I wasn’t interested in PT before, but the field trip made me think about PT as a career.”