Career Day offers exciting view of health care for high school girls

A group of 50 girls from Colorado high schools explored health care careers at the fourth annual Girls’ Career Day, hosted by the Center for Women’s Health Research (CWHR) at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. The girls were exposed to numerous fields and chatted with successful women across campus.

Girls' Career Day
The girls were shown how to suture by medical residents in the Center for Surgical Innovation.

The all-day event started at a parent-daughter breakfast, where participants met representatives from the CU School of Medicine (SOM), College of Nursing, School of Dental Medicine, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the SOM’s Physical Therapy Program. After hearing from CWHR Director Judy Regensteiner, PhD, the group embarked on a tour of CU Anschutz’s bioengineering labs. They learned about pulmonary structure, vascular mechanics and, through a live monitor, observed how a rat’s brain functions.

Chatting with surgeons

In the Center for Surgical Innovation, the group practiced sutures and other fine motor skill tasks in one of the region’s most high-tech training facilities. The girls practiced their newly learned skills on a cadaver’s leg and observed the different parts of a human head while asking surgeons about their day-to-day lives. An 11th-grader from Vista Peak Prep said she liked “having (the medical residents) both teach actual technique and attest to their lifestyle as residents.”

At a “lunch and learn” the girls heard neurosurgeon Aviva Abosch, MD, PhD, speak about her educational journey and her current practice. Since most of the girls are starting to think about post-secondary education, they enjoyed hearing from a successful woman who had gone through almost 20 years of education and additional years of training.

The afternoon was full of hands-on activities. CWHR researcher Sarah Perman, MD, explained why she enjoys Emergency Medicine and demonstrated CPR on a mannequin, all the while discussing how important it can be to someone’s life to be able to perform CPR.

Practicing on a ‘patient’

Girls tour labs at CU Anschutz
The girls got to hold human brains as part of their tour of labs and surgical facilities at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

The girls also visited the ambulance bay, where Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) revealed the similarities between an ambulance and emergency room.

After seeing a job that takes place more in the field, the girls saw other side of the job in the WELLS Simulation Center where they experienced a simulation with a high-fidelity mannequin/“patient” that was having respiratory problems. The girls took turns performing CPR, shocking the “patient,” and using teamwork skills. A girl from Manitou Springs High School said she enjoyed “interacting with people in the career rather than just having an informational booklet.”

The CWHR is committed to introducing high school girls to careers in health care and looks forward to hosting the event again next summer.

Guest contributor: The story was written by Kat Libby, Center for Women’s Health Research.

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