Human Genetics: Medical and Societal Implications. A high school course taught on a medical school campus. M. Godfrey1, J. E. Bird2 1) Munroe-Meyer Institute, Univ Nebraska Med Ctr, Omaha, NE; 2) UNMC High School Alliance, Univ Nebraska Med Ctr, Omaha, NE.
Patterson and Carline (2006) articulated a vision for sustained and effective partnerships between health professionals and public schools. Their blueprint was modeled by the development of a novel University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and Omaha Metropolitan Area Public High Schools partnership: the UNMC High School Alliance. The Alliance includes 21 high schools from eleven school districts in the Omaha, Nebraska area; including Council Bluffs, Iowa. Over the first four years of the Alliance program some 29% of students have come from underrepresented minority groups; compared to an 18% minority population in the Omaha area. Alliance students attend their home high schools in the morning and come to UNMC each afternoon for an entire academic year. While at UNMC they are taught by Medical Center faculty. Courses have included: Biomedical Research, Infectious Disease, The Art & Science of Decision Making, Fundamentals of Disease, Community Health, Human Anatomy, Human Genetics, and Health Science Fundamentals. Students also take part in numerous health science shadowing opportunities both on and off the UNMC campus. To ensure that high school credit is received, a certified high school teacher assists at all phases of the program. The Alliance program was not designed to attract only the best and brightest. Requirements are modest and student (as opposed to parent) interest is paramount. Here we report on the early evaluation and success of the Human Genetics: Medical and Societal Implications, a course taught by medical school faculty to high school students. Student knowledge of genetics increased each year the course has been taught. Interest in a career in genetics also increased. Students rarely thought about ELSI related issues prior to the course. Hands-on modules that related molecular biology to genetics are engaging and among the most liked lessons. Mathematical aspects of genetics are among the most difficult concepts for students. Nevertheless, many students expressed that they now had the confidence and new knowledge that would enable them to pursue a career in the health sciences.
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