DPT Students Keep At-Risk Teens Engaged and Thinking About College

DPT helping neighborhood teens Several Samuel Merritt College (SMC) students from the Doctoral Physical Therapy (DPT) program recently found that giving up their rare time off to mentor young teens into considering careers in healthcare is not about giving up at all. Turns out, these students were the ones on the receiving end.

"Our students are looking for opportunities to give back and share their experiences," said Kathie McWilliams, Administrative Assistant of Enrollment Services, who help coordinate the meeting. "The mentors were able to relate stories of how they got into the College and connect one-on-one with the teens."

"Physical Therapy (PT) is especially fun and interactive, there was no PowerPoint presentation or big lecture, students got to use the equipment and experience it first hand, and best of all, they were all laughing," said Heather MacDonald-Fine, Program Manager Model Neighborhood Program at Alameda County Medical Center (ACMC).

The DPT students mentored nearly three dozen teens from the Model Neighborhood Program, an organization designed to meet the needs of local middle school age students from Oakland Unified School District. The goal of the project was to introduce the young adults to a possible health career in physical therapy.

"The purpose of the program is to inspire youth to pursue a health career and attend college – this is a very important link that allows the youth to see what is possible locally," said MacDonald-Fine. "The age gap of college to 8th grade is relatively small, and the college students generally relate very well and meaningfully to our 13-14 year olds. Adolescents are more likely to listen to young people."

DPT Students

Through physical activities the DPT students were able to retain the teens attention and inform them about health career training, health education and mentoring support. Program leaders say the mentorship helps reduce the rate of youth unemployment and offer positive job training alternatives.

"PT is not one of the units that the youth get to rotate through when they are in their internship here at ACMC, so this is an excellent way to expose them to even more professional health opportunities that they may not be aware of," said MacDonald-Fine.

"Everyone was enjoying themselves, actively involved and interested in learning," said McWilliams.

Since 1991 the Model Neighborhood Program, a County and City partnership with Highland Hospital, has been working to reduce crime and revitalize the community. For more information about the Model Neighborhood Program, log onto http://www.achcf.org/programs/model_neighborhood.html.

In related news regarding Physical Therapy: Dr. Terry Nordstrom has been named Chair of the PT department in recognition of commitment to the College's success and effectiveness.

"This action was taken with the consensus support of his faculty and completion of his doctoral work," said Scot D. Foster PhD, Academic Vice President and Provost.

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