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UW medical students in Spokane take their turn as teachers

A University of Washington medical school teaches two Spokane high school students about taking a blood pressure reading.
Courtesy of Spokane Public Schools
A University of Washington medical school student teaches two Spokane high school students about taking a blood pressure reading.

First- and second-year medical students serve as tutors for a day for high school students interested in health care careers.

On Friday, first- and second-year medical students welcomed about 80 Spokane high schoolers to the University of Washington-Gonzaga Health Partnership Building.

The goal is to build interest in health care careers and develop a student pipeline to local post-high school programs. Though Spokane is a regional health care hub, many hospitals in eastern Washington and north Idaho struggle to find qualified candidates for the open positions.

For students interested in becoming doctors, the process of getting to medical school can be difficult to understand. First-year medical student Kendra Cooper wanted to de-mystify the experience.

“What does medical school look like and what is a day in the life of a student look like? What is the educational journey from the end of high school to the day that you become a licensed physician look like overall?” she said.

University of Washington medical student Taylor Buck gives a medical lesson to Spokane high school students at an event at the UW-Gonzaga Health Partnership building.
Courtesy of Spokane Public Schools
University of Washington medical student Taylor Buck gives a medical lesson to Spokane high school students at an event at the UW-Gonzaga Health Partnership building.

Cooper and several of her peers shared skills they themselves have only learned within the last year or so, including how to interview patients and take blood pressure readings.

Cooper says an event like this might have been valuable for her. She knew when she was in high school in western Washington that she wanted to be a doctor. She graduated with an undergraduate degree from Washington State University and then, when she was accepted to the UW School of Medicine, decided to stay east of the mountains.

Now she's interested in sharing her experience with younger students.

“By providing them this more relaxed, informal space to get to know some of the med students, they’re able to see themselves in each one of us and from that, they realize that this is a very attainable goal for them," she said.

In addition to the hands-on tutorials, Friday’s event also featured a question-and-answer session with medical students and lectures about the heart, lungs and radiology.

The event is part of Greater Spokane’s Business After School program.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.