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An Alliance of Mentoring and Understanding

An Alliance of Mentoring and Understanding: The Netter Center’s Pipeline+ Program for Equity in College and Career Readiness

  Pipeline+ Students Tyreek Dennis and Zier Dockery present on their student shadowing experiences from this summer.

Working to provide the best possible education opportunities for our young people must include allowing students the chance to explore their interests, whether it be pursuing higher education or working towards a vocation. Community schools provides these opportunities through rich relationships with community partners and businesses in areas that may be of interest to y students.

One such strategy is the Pipeline+ program created by The Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania. The Pipeline+ program originated as a school year only program with the mission of exposing underrepresented populations to the medical field. It was the hope of the organizers that these students after being exposed to the medical field would be inspired to pursue a studies in health sciences. "It is greatly important for high school students to see what professionals do on a day-to-day basis, as it is easier to visualize a particular practice in your future", stated Joanna Chae who manages the program at Netter. This program provided the opportunity for students to intern with a medical practitioner with a specific focus on learning what it takes to be effective and successful in the medical field and ultimately present their findings to the Netter Center staff and faculty of the University of Pennsylvania.

Aware of Pipeline+’s potential to impact students and the medical community, the Netter Center piloted a summer learning program this year. This new program allowed students more time and flexibility to work with a variety of individuals at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital (including surgeons, critical care, sport medicine, and nutrition specialists) so they could learn how to be college ready and gain a clearer vision of their future academic endeavors.

Tyreek and Zier meet with the sports medicine specialist for the University of Pennsylvania’s athletic teams.

For Tyreek Dennis and Zier Dockery, two students in the pilot summer program, this was invaluable experience to help them outline and cement their collegiate plans. "The program…made me more certain of what I wanted to do by exposing me to so many aspects of the medical field…Now I know for sure I want to be a trauma doctor after talking to different doctors and nurses," stated Tyreek.

The program’s timing in a student’s high school career, the summer before their junior year, also nurtures students’ focus on their studies and goals as they apply to colleges. "The program made me more dedicated. I am…getting better grades, because I want to go to the best college possible now," voiced Zier.

Not only did the medical practitioners help the students, but the students helped their mentors as well. As Philadelphia natives and students of color, Tyreek and Zier often helped bridge the cultural divide between the medical practitioners and their patients, many of whom are of color.

This work is all the more important as we discover the effects of having underrepresented minorities in the medical field. A NY Times report by Abby Goodnough found that underrepresented minorities get unbalanced treatment from doctors in the realms of pain treatment and general care. Diversifying the field is one solution to this problem, and programs like Pipeline+ can make medical careers more accessible to students of color. "Hearing from doctors, some who grew up in similar environments, gave me a vision that this world and profession is possible," stated Zier. 

The Pipeline+ program has connected students to professional careers, and motivated them to work towards their goals in high school. With the continued success of the program, the Netter Center looks to expand the program to other fields like law. As the program grows, more students will receive the opportunities and supports to explore their interests and strive to attain their dream careers.

By Denzel Cummings

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