KEARNEY – Grand Island Senior High School’s Academy of Medical Sciences is designed specifically for students interested in health care professions.
The academy features specialized classes and hands-on learning opportunities that encourage students to start thinking about potential career paths.
On Wednesday, roughly 100 of these students visited the University of Nebraska at Kearney to take a closer look at the next step in their professional journey.
UNK Health Sciences partnered with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, UNK Athletic Training and UNK Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Admissions to host a daylong event that gave the high school juniors a chance to learn more about various health care careers, the programs offered by UNK and UNMC, and college life in general.
The event included campus tours, with activities in the Health Science Education Complex, Physical Activity and Wellness Lab and athletic training lab, as well as sessions focusing on pre-professional and professional programs and financial aid.
“We want to get students on campus and show them what we offer, especially the UNK-UNMC collaboration,” said UNK Health Sciences assistant director Sarah Jones.
UNK Health Sciences offers 18 pre-professional programs, and there are opportunities to remain on campus while completing professional programs provided by UNMC’s College of Nursing and College of Allied Health Professions.
Wednesday’s event highlighted a number of career options, from nursing, dentistry and medicine to lesser-known fields such as dietetics, cardiovascular perfusion and respiratory therapy.
“There are lots of different options, and we want to make sure students are aware of all of them,” said Jones, who also noted the high demand for health care workers in Nebraska, particularly in rural areas.
Another partnership between UNK and UNMC addresses this issue.
The Kearney Health Opportunities Program (KHOP) provides full-tuition scholarships to UNK and guaranteed admission into UNMC, assuming all requirements are met, for students pursuing degrees in a number of health sciences programs. KHOP is available to students from rural Nebraska, including Grand Island, who are committed to practicing in these areas.
Jones encourages students to get involved with health care through job shadowing or programs such as UNK’s Health Sciences Academy summer camp so they have a better idea of their preferred profession before college begins.
“You’re going to make a good living and you’re going to find a job,” Jones said. “But we want high school students to know early on what their interests are.”
Attending Wednesday’s event was a step in the right direction.
Paula Poppe, an English teacher in Grand Island Senior High’s Academy of Medical Sciences, said it’s important for high schoolers to get on a college campus and see firsthand what’s available to them.
“A lot of these students have never had the opportunity to visit a college,” Poppe said. “This allows them to see what a great opportunity UNK is.”
For Grand Island Senior High School junior Kaysha Anson, the campus visit was enough to pique her interest.
She plans to pursue a career in nursing, but hadn’t seriously considered UNK as an undergraduate option. After touring the Health Science Education Complex and learning about UNK’s programs and the partnership with UNMC, she could see herself becoming a Loper.
“That definitely changed my mind and opened it up to all the possibilities,” Anson said. “The door’s kind of open for me.”