Shaping the next generation of physicians through student-led service

Shaping the next generation of physicians through student-led service

Project HEAL

With the support of Dwayne Compton, EdD, chief diversity office at the School of Medicine and Eddie Miller, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, nine first-year medical students are providing avenues for experiencing science education for Louisville-area high school students.

Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Leadership) is a recently founded student-led organization created to reduce barriers for high school students accessing science education with a pre-medicine focus at Louisville’s Title 1 schools. The program allows students an opportunity to meet current medical students and healthcare providers that share similarities and gain mentors who have a robust set of resources for the student to explore. The program currently serves 10th and 11th grade students at Pleasure Ridge Park High School and Moore High School.

“The goal of the program is to provide high school students with exposure to different healthcare fields and mentorship before applying to college,” said Jennifer Kreinik, a first-year medical student and executive director of Project HEAL. “My hope is to get kids excited about science and healthcare in general. By getting them excited and having the opportunity to learn from healthcare professionals, they will be more interested in exploring those career paths. That’s what Project HEAL is all about.”

Before coming to the UofL School of Medicine, Kreinik worked as a high school science teacher at a Title 1 school in Bronx, NY. “So many of my students did not realize the career possibilities in healthcare, and they never had people who looked like, or came from a similar background as them to model from. When starting medical school, I realized I was in a unique position to create a program that could really change the trajectory of young students’ lives.”

Kreinik and the other medical student leaders look forward to expanding their program to reach more schools in the Louisville community while working to expand the School of Medicine’s mission of educating the next generation of scientists and physicians. Project HEAL is helping to bridge the gaps for children who have been historically underrepresented in healthcare by providing them early access and exposure to what a career in those fields might look like.

The most rewarding part of the program, Kreinik said, is “witnessing all of the ideas and passion that my peers bring to our meetings and how quickly the group has grown.” To get involved in Project HEAL, UofL medical students should contact Kreinik or Cameron Stephens, director of recruitment, to be added to an email list that provides details of upcoming events throughout the semester, including information on monthly meetings.