Are you a high school student curious about a career in medicine? High school day is for you

When Victoria Ibarra-Alemán was a child in Mexico City, her mother brought home a curiosity from the market: a cow’s heart, wrapped in newspaper.

His mother, a doctor, opened the head-sized slab on the table.

“Play with it,” she said.

“With my little hands, you know, I’m trying to find where all the holes go,” recalls Ibarra-Aleman. “And looking back, I thought, ‘Wow, we have a heart, something like that is in us too.’

More than two decades later, Ibarra-Alemán is almost a doctor. A fourth-year medical student at the University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicineis creating spaces for young people to foster their own interest in medicine.

The next chance is high school day, a free event on Friday, February 3 for high school students to learn about careers in medicine: what they are like and how to pursue them. Although the focus of the event is students from communities that are underrepresented in the health care professions, anyone is welcome to attend.

High School Day, held on the Fort Worth Health Science Center campus, is organized by the Latino Association of Medical Students. Ibarra-Aleman is the information director for the association’s southwest region. She hopes the day will light “a little fire” for everyone in attendance.

If you go:

What: High School Day by the Latino Association of Medical Students – Southwest Region. Any high school student is welcome to attend. Registration is required, but the event is free and breakfast and lunch will be provided.

When: 7:30 am – 4 pm on Friday, February 3.

Where: Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
3500 Bowie Field Blvd.
Fort Worth, TX 76107

The deadline to register is Friday, January 27. Learn how to register here.

In Texas, Latinos make up nearly 40% of the population, but only about 10% of the primary care physician workforce in the state. There is also a disparity for African-Americans, albeit narrower.

High School Day is a step along a pipeline that the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine is building to attract underrepresented students into the medical field.

Last summer, the school organized its inaugural Latinos In Medicine camp, a three-day program for children ages 10 to 13 who might one day work in medicine. In March, the school will hold its second iteration, this time for high school students.

The camp complements an effort by the National Medical Student Association: Mini-School of Medicinea monthly after-school program that was also intended to introduce children to health-related careers.

“We want to make sure (students) know that there are people like them who grew up in similar situations and from similar backgrounds, who made it,” said Owen Saenz, a second-year medical student at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Saenz is also the chapter president of the Latino Medical Student Association and has helped plan High School Day. The itinerary includes a mix of lectures, discussions and hands-on workshops, he said. The Association will provide free breakfast and lunch.

In the morning, students will learn about the Joint Admission Medical Program, which supports young people in Texas who want to become doctors but don’t have many resources to do so. The program offers undergraduate scholarships, summer internships, MCAT preparation, and guaranteed admission to a Texas medical school.

Before lunch, the program also includes a splinting workshop and health professions panel, where attendees will hear from students studying to become a physician assistant, pharmacist, physical therapist, researcher, and physician.

After lunch, students will learn to stitch wounds at a stitch clinic and explore a college fair hosted by representatives from a handful of Texas schools.

“Learning is not just about sitting down and listening,” said Sáenz. “What we want to do is show students that learning comes in different ways.”

Ibarra-Alemán hopes that students finish High School Day uplifted and ready to take the next steps.

“I hope they have a sense of belonging and a sense of pride,” he said. “And just knowing that if (medicine is) what they choose to do, they can do it, and that we’ll be here supporting them.”

Alexis Allison is the health reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Her position is supported by a grant from Texas Health Resources. Contact her at or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of board members and financial backers. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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