It’s a common sight on any medical school campus: students being asked to identify and explain the function of a muscle on a cadaver they’re working with in the anatomy lab. But on a recent afternoon, the students in question weren’t enrolled at the School of Medicine, but high school students participating in the Anatomy Teaching Program, one of several ways in which the medical school collaborates with Hill Regional Career High School, a New Haven magnet school just a stone’s throw from campus.
Career High attracts students from the New Haven area who hope to work in health care, business or computer technology. Though the medical school’s partnership with the high school began informally in 1993 with the anatomy program, this year marks the tenth anniversary of a more formal partnership that has enabled Career High’s students to benefit from a wide range of the expertise and resources available at Yale.
The collaboration now has many facets. For a medical careers class, for example, faculty from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health visit Career High during the first semester to speak about career options; during the second semester, the high school students complete an internship in clinics and laboratories at Yale. To help Career High students understand cell structure, the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health donated a research-quality electron microscope to their school. The medical school assisted Career High in equipping its science labs, and students in the school’s Advanced Biology class come to the School of Medicine twice a month with their teacher, Shirley Neighbors, to get help with course material from medical students.
In Career High’s anatomy course, also taught by Neighbors, two classes meet twice each month in the medical school’s anatomy lab. First- and second-year medical students overseen by William B. Stewart, Ph.D., associate professor and chief of the section of anatomy and experimental surgery, volunteer as instructors. In small groups, the students explore such topics as cardiovascular health, energy metabolism and infectious diseases. “One of the ideas is that these kids will become community ambassadors for health,” says Stewart.
Thanks to the SCHOLAR initiative (Science Collaborative for Hands-On Learning and Research), a three-week summer residential science program for students entering grades 10 through 12, Career High students have had a chance to become more fully immersed in all Yale has to offer. SCHOLAR students, who normally participate in the program for three years, study science at the college level and conduct research under the supervision of Yale faculty.
Neighbors believes that, in addition to her students, medical students and society as a whole will see benefits from the Yale-Career High partnership. As she watched second-year medical student Rebecca Bruccoleri explain in a recent class how food is converted to energy, she observed, “If they can find time to do this as a med student, you can imagine what kind of doctors they’ll be.”