Since the fall of 2015, Summa Health System has partnered with Akron Children’s and other community organizations to provide a day of engaging, hands-on activities for high school students from Akron Public Schools. This event, Future Healthcare Leaders’ Summit, is held on the University of Akron campus. The goal is to engage adolescents from Akron, particularly those who are underrepresented in medicine, while seeking more diversity in the next generation of physicians and health care professionals.
This year’s event took place on Oct. 24 with just under 200 students participating. Clinical leaders from Akron Children’s who led demonstrations included Dr. Kathryn Mansel (pediatric hospitalist), Dr. John Pope (critical care), Dr. Lisa Miyatake (primary care), and Dr. Kevin Watson (gastroenterology).
“I think it is important in health care to have a wide array of individuals from various sociocultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds that reflect the population of our country,” said Dr. Watson, who led a session and participated in the mentorship lunch during the summit.
“It has been demonstrated time over time how patients may be more receptive with their health care and guidance if they have health practitioners who look like them. We want to make sure these students know a future career in health care is possible,” said Dr. Watson.
Grateful for the opportunity to serve as a mentor and resource, Dr. Watson shared more on ways he hoped to spark a passion for a future in medicine for students at the event.
How did you get involved with this event? Why do you feel it is important?
I learned of the Future Healthcare Leaders’ Summit from Dr. John Pope and Dr. Katie Mansel. Dr. Mansel participated in 2022. After the event, she shared what a positive and purposeful event it was. Since then, I have had the opportunity to meet with the organizers to be an integral part of planning and coordinating provider involvement from Akron Children’s.
Chatting with the students and guiding the hands-on stations provides exposure and allows for students to get a taste of the various opportunities in medicine in hopes of sparking interest in the medical field.
The session you led was titled: Eww, gross – and – Chew it up. Describe what covered in this session.
Two main components made up this session. First, we discussed the importance of health care prevention including vaccines, suicide prevention and well-child checks. We used Glo powder to better explain how germs are easily transmitted from person to person.
The other component was how handle choking individuals including infants by teaching the basics of first aid and Heimlich maneuver. It is important for everyone to know these techniques but as many young people will be babysitting and around multiple family members for the holidays it will be good for them to know how to handle these basic types of emergencies.
When you were growing up, what inspired you to work in health care?
As a teenager growing up in Virginia, I was a part of a program in middle and high school sponsored by the local medical school. This program opened the door to lessons and interactive labs taught by physicians, residents, and medical students. It was an exceptional experience and gave me an early inside view into the medical field. Today, I am glad to have the opportunity to hopefully be an inspiration to young minds and influence them engaging in health care careers.