New Orleans ranks 10% above the national average in healthcare job growth. Who will fill these jobs? At Ochsner, we’re committed to working to ensure that tomorrow’s doctors, nurses and care teams are as diverse as the patient populations they serve.
Ochsner is helping to motivate and inspire the next generation of healthcare providers – and ensure that students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to pursue these promising careers. Through the Ochsner STAR (Science, Technology, Academics, Research) Program, Ochsner provides high school students with a window into professions in medicine, as well as professional skills and leadership training that will serve them no matter which career paths they choose.
The program, now in its 12th year, welcomed 16 students in 2018 from high schools across southeast Louisiana. Over the course of four weeks, students visited 75 departments within the Ochsner Health System, gaining hands-on experience, including training with state-of-the-art surgical technology; took part in clinical skills workshops led by medical students; participated in research experiments with Ph.D. scientists; earned CPR certification and more. Each year, class sizes are kept small to allow for a more interactive experience. Access and opportunity are the central tenets of the STAR program. According to 2018 STAR graduate Clydia Colston-Dean, “A lot of kids that I’ve talked to who have wanted to go into healthcare haven’t really had these types of opportunities. The fact that I have this opportunity and get to share it with others is really great.”
One of the program’s most defining features is its inclusiveness. STAR does not charge tuition, and program coordinators keep diversity in mind when screening applicants, choosing no more than two students from each high school. As part of the curriculum, STAR aims to expose students to medical professionals with roles and backgrounds that challenge stereotypes – introducing them, for example, to a female surgeon and a male nurse. By providing students with practical learning and innovative educational opportunities, STAR not only familiarizes students with the healthcare industry – it teaches them that there are no limits to how big they can dream.