Learning about possibilities, choosing a direction, defining a paththose are the goals of Introduction to the Health Professions, Patrick Knott’s engaging look at careers in the health care industry. 

Knotta professor and vice president for Enrollment Management at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicinebegan teaching the class two years ago in response to a perceived lack of information among college students about professions in medicine.  His teaching at DePaul is part of the Alliance for Health Sciences between the two universities (http://resources.depaul.edu/alliance/Pages/default.aspx).

“Students coming out of high school have heard about being a doctor, they’ve heard about being a nurse, but they don’t know about other choices,” he says.  “So, I thought it would be great if undergrads could learn about the many careers in health care, if they could see all the options. And, on top of that, why not show them how to succeed once they’ve made a choice?”

Hence, Introduction to the Health Professions was borna class that combines information and imagination, learning and planning.

The success of the class begins with its distinctive format, as Knott explains:

“I thought that a fun way to get across a lot of information would be an extended case study. A guy is in a car accident; what happens next? The first health care provider he needs is a paramedic. Then, the questions: What does a paramedic do? Where do you go to school to become one? How long does it take? How much does a paramedic earn? What are the working conditions? Once our patient gets to the hospital, he interacts with all the other health care professionals and the same questions get asked and answered. Practicing clinicians visit the class and give students the ‘real story’ about each career, from job outlooks to at-work challenges and satisfactions.”

Three class assignments help the students move from idea to action.

First, an “interest finder test” matches students with one or more professions based on their personalities.

“The test opens up a student’s understanding of what’s possible, which is of great value even for those who think they already know what they want to do after they graduate,” Knott says. “I’ve had students say, ‘the test matched me with two jobs I never even thought of, so maybe I should I take a closer look at those, too.’  That expanded perspective is what the testand the classis all about.”

Second, the students interview working professionals.

“They gain a lot of understanding by talking to a person doing an actual job,” Knott says. “Often, the clinicians will let students shadow them for a day, which is a great learning experience.”
 
When Bilal Ahmed (BS ’14) took the class, he already knew he wanted to work in administration, but before making a commitment, he wanted some perspective:

“It was great finding out what it takes to pursue each career path, and the guest speakers gave us fresh insights. Even more important, Dr. Knott introduced me to some big players in my field, and those connections helped shaped my decision making.” Ahmed is now working on an MS in health care administration at Ohio State University.

Third, the students draw a road map, defining the way they’ll get from where they are to where they want to be. What classes should they take?  When should they take them? What GPA is required for graduate school? Where can they get some working experience? 

“Going through the planning process helps the students, even if they change their professional ambitions down the road,” Knott says.  “Either way, they know what they have to do to become what they want to be.”

Yui Okamura (BS ’14) took the class to improve her chances of getting into a graduate program to become a physician assistant. “The class exceeded my expectations,” she says. “Dr. Knott kept me on track, making sure I was doing the right things to become a better candidate for grad school and helping me through the admissions processhe was really there for us, during and after class.”

“I like helping the students succeed,” Knott says. “It’s very rewarding.”