SMU eNews

SMU Physician Assistant Students Mentor Youth from FACES Program

FACES for the Future scholars recently had several opportunities to meet with their mentors from Samuel Merritt University (SMU) Master Physician Assistant department (PA).

An event at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, CA was the first interactive workshop to launch the new mentorship program between SMU PA students and youth enrolled in FACES for the Future, a local non-profit that prepares underserved students for careers in healthcare. Student mentors from the University have also scheduled several field trips for 2014, including to the Oakland Zoo.

"For us at SMU, this is an opportunity to be involved in meaningful community outreach which crosscuts University goals to develop a more meaningful presence in our community, enhance the diversity and inclusiveness of our campus and, ultimately, has the potential to contribute to health workforce and pipeline development," said Mike DeRosa, Chair of the SMU PA program. "There is a lot of true mentorship happening. I am hopeful that as FACES programs expand we can grow the mentorship opportunity to other schools and departments on campus." 

A project of the Public Health Institute, the FACES for the Future Coalition is a collaborative of statewide health career pathway programs, working to address health equity for all communities through the training and empowerment of young people who best represent those communities. Dr. Tomás A. Magaña, Assistant Professor/Medical Director in the Master Physician Assistant Program at Samuel Merritt University, is the co-founder of FACES for the Future and director of the FACES for the Future Coalition.  The FACES for the Future program provides healthcare internships and career exposure, academic support, wellness training, safety-net case management services, and youth leadership opportunities  to underserved high school students interested in a career in the health professions, public health, or mental and behavioral health.  FACES for the Future began in 2000 in Oakland, and has since replicated in Hayward, San Diego, and Imperial Valley, with new programs coming online this year in San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento, CA.

For the SMU students, the mentor program outline includes weekly phone call check-ins with their FACES students to keep in touch with what is going on in their day-to-day lives, participating in the field trips, working with the students during their internship rotations at St. Rose Hospital, and a series of monthly workshops/activities at St. Rose Hospital that includes training in clinical skills, professional development and life skills.  Most importantly, through their own experiences, SMU PA students are able to help FACES for the Future scholars understand how to best navigate the often complex pathways that lead to careers in the health care industry. Upon graduation, each FACES for the Future student articulates a “personal plan” for themselves after high school and having a caring, knowledgeable health professional assist in crafting that plan with them is part of the impact of the program.  FACES for the Future programs across the state produce a 100% graduation rate from high school, with over 90% of their students continuing directly into college, professional certification and career. 

“The SMU PA students have been awesome,” said S. Brooke Briggance, FACES Program Manager. “They've totally embraced the kids, have met their commitments to them, and have already had an impact on their lives. FACES has enjoyed a rich and deepening relationship with Samuel Merritt, and we are continually grateful for the ways in which the faculty, staff and students of the University have sought to grow our partnership.  When we speak of diversifying the health care workforce with integrity, adults come to realize we need the youth as much as they need us.  SMU really gets that, and has taken tangible action to support our FACES students.”

The group is working on a gross anatomy field trip to SMU in April or May, as well as a trip to the Oakland Museum. 

FACES for Future
FACES for Future