Training Early Achievers for Careers in Health
Research indicates that most high school students are unclear about their occupational futures and have limited knowledge of the professional world. In particular, minority students often lack access to practical experiences and career-oriented role models, leaving these students underrepresented in many science and technology professions.
To address the challenge of preparing these students to become physician-scientists, a team of interdisciplinary investigators created Training Early Achievers for Careers in Health (TEACH) Research, a program based on theories of adolescent career development. TEACH Research aims to prepare and inspire talented Chicago Public Schools high school students to pursue careers in health-related research by providing exposure to a realistic career experience and a multi-tiered structure of mentors. Students are recruited as rising sophomores from the University of Chicago Collegiate Scholars Program, a three-year enrichment program for high-achieving and talented Chicago Public Schools students.
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The principal collaborators of the TEACH Research project are:
- Vineet Arora, MD, MA, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine; Assistant Dean at Pritzker School of Medicine
- David Meltzer, MD, PhD, Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Economics, and Public Policy; Director of CHeSS
- Barbara Schneider, MS, PhD, John A. Hannah Chair in the College of Education; Director of the Data Research and Development Center; Co-director of the Alfred P. Sloan Center on Parents, Children, and Work at Michigan State University
This project examines the impact of realistic career experiences and a multi-tiered mentoring structure on underrepresented minority students who are considering careers in medical research. Students are assigned to either the Hospital or Field Research program.
Hospital research is a full-time immersion experience, based on the University of Chicago Medical Center. Students gain hands-on experience in a clinical setting through the University of Chicago Hospitalist Project, an ongoing large clinical research project led by Dr. David Meltzer Students work closely with faculty, medical students, and University of Chicago undergraduates, shadowing hospital medicine doctors and learning how to interview patients, analyze and collect data, and present research findings.
Students participate in a lecture series on an array of topics, such as study design and literature reviews, cultural competence, and health disparities. TEACH student participants also take part in structured discussions that enhance their practical knowledge, including “Getting into College,” Applying to Medical School,” and “Funding a College Education.” Students also complete a capstone research project under the mentorship of faculty and residents. The program culminates with a poster session in which students present their research to friends, family, and the larger University community.
Field Research is a special Collegiate Scholars Program course in biological science, with an emphasis on experimental techniques used in health research. The course begins with an overview of the fundamental building blocks of life- elements, atoms, and states of matter- evolving into a discussion of cell biology, human anatomy, and evolution. Students have the opportunity to apply these concepts to weekly hands-on lab exercises.
Field students participate in lunch lectures led by science researchers with the intention of exposing students to a wide variety of possible careers in the sciences. Additionally, students attend interactive lab exhibits at local museums. The program culminates with a poster session in which students present their research to friends, family, and the larger Collegiate Scholars Program community.
Since it was established in 2004, TEACH Research has received support from a variety of organizations. From 2005 through 2011, it was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Science/National Institutes of Health (NIGMS/NIH), which awarded a $1.8 million dollar grant to evaluate the program. Over the years, the program has also received generous support from The Women’s Board of The University of Chicago, the Spencer Foundation, NORC, and the McCormick Tribune Foundation. In 2013, TEACH was awarded another $1.4 million dollar grant from the NIH to continue the program into 2017 and further engage participants and their peers.