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Middle school students learn lifesaving techniques

Pipeline Programs Expose Students to Health Professions

Nineteen middle school students from Richmond area schools learned firsthand about some of the responsibilities of nurses and other health care professionals while participating in a one-week community outreach program called "Jump Rope to Stethoscope."

The program exposes students to the health care field by providing opportunities to work with medical professionals in a real-world environment.

“To see the light bulb go off, it’s amazing,” said Theresa Mondovics, nurse liaison, Office of Workforce Development and Strategy at the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System. “You’re engaging the kids and opening them up to a whole new world.”

Sheryl Harvey, a college sophomore and certified nursing assistant, participated in the camp as a middle school student and was enrolled in a similar VCU pipeline program for high school students called Career Exploration. Harvey currently works as a VCU Medical Center care partner.

“This program was the jump start for my career,” said Harvey. ‘My mom is a nurse and once I enrolled in the program, I was sure that I wanted to go into the medical field.”

The idea for Jump Rope to Stethoscope grew out of a desire to address the nursing shortage and expose more minorities and boys to nursing. The program started in 2005 with only a handful of students but now has a waiting list.

“I enjoy working with such a diverse group of kids,” said Karen Hill Holliday, Ph.D., career counselor, Office of Workforce Development Strategy at the VCU Health System. “They all seem to have an interest in learning about health care and learning about their own health.”

Participants shadowed health care professionals and learned life-saving techniques, using patient simulation mannequins, a defibrillator machine and bag valve mask resuscitator.

“It’s really hands on,” said Clara Falls, a rising ninth-grader. “It’s cool to see all the different things you can do.”

Jermaine Mason, a rising ninth-grader, said he wanted to be an engineer. “I wasn’t sure what type,” he said. “Now I see what I can do, and I want to be a medical engineer of some sort.”

Jump Rope to Stethoscope receives funding from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association and the VCU Health System.  The program is one of a group of pipeline programs offered by the VCU Division for Health Sciences Diversity.  

“Our goal is to keep them in the pipeline until they get to college,” said Mondovics.  “We assist in providing opportunities to give them additional exposure to health careers.”

VCU Division for Health Sciences Diversity offers a six-week long Summer Academic Enrichment Program (SAEP) for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students. The inter-professional academic enrichment program enhances the academic preparation of students pursuing education in health professions.  

The division also has an acceleration program for incoming freshman. During the summer, they spend four weeks on campus and are exposed to a health sciences curriculum. During their freshman year, they live with other pre-health sciences students in a living-learning community.  

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Jump Rope to Stethoscope students Sherese Bonner, Kilyna Nguyen and Yuktha Penumala practice life-saving techniques.
Jump Rope to Stethoscope students Sherese Bonner, Kilyna Nguyen and Yuktha Penumala practice life-saving techniques.
This summer's Jump Rope to Stethoscope students flank two former participants, Ashanti Anderson (center, left) and Sheryl Harvey (center, right).
This summer's Jump Rope to Stethoscope students flank two former participants, Ashanti Anderson (center, left) and Sheryl Harvey (center, right).
Students in the Summer Academic Enrichment Program assisted in reorganizing classrooms at Ginter Park Elementary School as part of a community-service effort.
Students in the Summer Academic Enrichment Program assisted in reorganizing classrooms at Ginter Park Elementary School as part of a community-service effort.