Introducing Saturday Academies -theU

On Saturday, November 19, 2022, the opening session of Saturday academies More than 200 local students attended from Kindergarten to Grade 12. It originally consisted of five separate programs housed within Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine (Science Buds, Science Force, Science Navigators, MScs, and Doctors of the Future) As a pathway in medicine program for historically marginalized and underrepresented populations in medicine, the programs have moved to University Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (UHEDI) as of July 1, 2022.

With the transfer of software and associated assets, a rebranding became necessary. By recognizing that population disparities are not confined to medical school alone but exist across the breath of all health sciences professions, Reimagining and Realigning Vision began to broaden and refocus Vision to become a targeted path for historically marginalized and underrepresented populations in all of the health sciences.

Planned and led by students from the Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine and College of Nursing, the activities began with lessons and discussions on digestive health and then guided students of all age levels through age-appropriate digestive health activities. For elementary students, a 30-foot digestive maze was imagined and assembled for students to complete in order to understand the different stages wet food must go through in order to be fully digested and converted into fuel or waste. The students’ interactive activities culminated in a complete dissection of the pig digestive system of the high school participants.

With enrollments coming from 93 different schools across the state of Utah, the final attendance figures were strictly for high school students who self-report as 63% female and 20% identifying as black, indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC). Throughout the entire event, registration rates for attendees were 52% with 415 registrations and 214 attendees. The highest attendance rates were among students in elementary grades 1-3 with an attendance rate of 71%.

Going forward, UHEDI will have members from all schools of health sciences incl Faculty of DentistryAnd the faculty of PharmacyAnd the College of Health In planning and hosting events. Future Saturday Academy sessions will focus on raising awareness and generating interest in underrepresented communities.

It is not enough to keep students interested, and providing the opportunity to attend and participate is key to the long-term success of the programme. By focusing our marketing and awareness-raising efforts in less affluent neighborhoods, and then by providing transportation from local Salt Lake City community centers to and from the event, students will not only get a valuable exposure to future healthcare careers, but also feel welcome as a vital part of the fabric of the community. .

The Saturday Academies are just beginning, and we also hope to get parents involved in these programs. The primary school years will begin with parental activity, and there will be interventions for parents for all age groups. In addition, we plan to work towards incorporating close-to-peer mentoring, so that high school students can teach lower grades and college students and graduate students can work with high school students. Perhaps our most exciting plan is to coordinate with all of the other basic and secondary education programs in the sciences at the University of Utah, and the new community partnerships that we will form.

Future Sabbath Academy events are scheduled for January and March 2023. To find out more about the Sabbath Academies and to register for the January 21 session, please visit Saturday Academies webpage.

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