Mayo Clinic Career Immersion Program Allows Minnesota High School Students to Explore Health Science Careers

Students learning about emergency medicine at Mayo as part of the Career Immersion Program.
Students learning about emergency medicine at Mayo as part of the Career Immersion Program.

Mayo Clinic launched its first Career Immersion Program (CIP), which is designed to allow Minnesota high school junior and senior students to explore health science careers at Mayo’s Rochester campus. Thanks to sponsorship from the Mayo School of Health Sciences, the 36 students (many of whom were from underrepresented backgrounds) were exposed to areas that they may have never heard of.

The students received many laboratory tours throughout the week.
The students received many laboratory tours throughout the week.

During the week-long program, the students witnessed a variety of health science careers, including cardiovascular invasive specialists, cytotechnology, gross anatomy, histology, emergency medicine paramedics, medical laboratory sciences, pathologist’s assistants, phlebotomy, physician’s assistants, radiography, sonography, surgical first assistants, molecular genetics, and genetic counseling.

They also had the ability to tour the Mayo Medical Laboratories facility at the Superior Drive Support Center to learn how specimens are received at the facility, routed to the appropriate laboratory for testing, and resulted by one of many types of laboratory positions necessary to complete the process.

Hands-On Learning in Anatomic Pathology

Many staff members welcomed students in their respective areas and provided hands-on activities.
Many staff members welcomed students in their respective areas and provided hands-on activities.

The CIP students spent an entire day in Anatomic Pathology (AP) where they learned about careers as a histology technician, cytotechnologist, and pathologist's assistant. In the morning, the students participated in a patient tracer audit where they followed a pathology specimen through a variety of labs within AP, and their afternoon was filled with hands-on activities. The students were immersed in the histology and cytology laboratories where they worked through the various tasks of preparing a slide, reviewed  patient cases,  and even decorated cookies to look like Reed Sternberg cells. A “highlight” of the week was working with the pathologist's assistants to look at diseased organs.

Michelle Nelson, Program Director for the Mayo School of Health Sciences Histology Technician Program said, “The students absolutely loved the hands-on activities. Overall, it was a fantastic experience. This was a great opportunity for our programs to engage students early and hopefully recruit some of them into our programs.”

Learning the Role of a Phlebotomist
The CIP phlebotomy students were taught the various pieces of equipment used in blood draws and were able to simulate a hands-on patient blood draw by using mannequin arms (complete with needles, tubing, and red food coloring) in the classroom/lab. The students toured the outpatient blood draw area of Hilton's Desk C before moving along to Central Processing to see how the blood samples arrive in the lab, how they are processed, and the different automated machinery used in the laboratories.

Mary Kaye Peterson, Education Program Director, introduced the Mayo School of Health Sciences Phlebotomy program to the students and received positive feedback from the group. “The students love the fact that the program is only 10 weeks long. They also like the idea of having this 'stepping stone' as an entry point into the health care environment,” said Peterson.

More information about the 2016–2017 Career Immersion Program will be available soon at http://www.edu/mshs/careers/career-immersion.

For more on Mayo School of Health Sciences programs, visit http://www.mayo.edu/mshs/.

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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.