The first initiative in collaboration with the Region One Education Service Center was the Junior Clinical Research Internship (JCRI) program, which was held during the summer of 2021. This innovative summer program is offered to high school students at the collegiate level of instruction, training, and performance expectations. Goals of the JCRI are to enhance students’ interest in STEM-M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine); introduce students to different disciplines in clinical sciences; produce the next generation of critical thinkers; and foster an understanding of the importance of research in mitigating the public health crisis.
Designed to be a transformative experience, JCRI was piloted in the summer of 2021 with twelve PATHS students from different high schools in the region. Students were exposed to fundamentals of research and patient care, public health crisis, data management and integrity, and a number of other topics that are relevant to the STEM-M discipline. Experts from a variety of disciplines in medicine spoke to students daily about their professional journeys in a series of “Fireside Chats” designed to enhance student understanding of the healthcare field.
In summer 2022, the 2nd Annual JCRI expanded to include 177 students and 37 educators from 35 school districts in the region. The level of instruction in the JCRI was intensified as more content was added to the existing curriculum, including practicum exercises in minimally invasive surgery, obtaining vital signs, conducting and interpreting the results of liver fibroscans, suturing, and blood-drawing. In addition, student groups were charged with researching and writing review manuscripts on the healthcare topic of their choice. These 21 manuscripts were subsequently published in the online journal, “DHR Proceedings.” You can view these publications by going to this website: https://www.dhrproceedings.org/index.php/DHRP/issue/view/13
A grand commencement ceremony follows each JCRI, complete with graduation regalia, distribution of certificates, student recognitions, and a keynote speaker. Students in the JCRI are provided with educational wrap-around sessions in the following fall and spring after to development leadership and career skills.
Planning for the 3rd Annual JCRI is underway, with goals to raise the bar from the previous years’ standards.