High schoolers get head start on health professions


Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
By: Cynthia McMullen

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Students at Cosby High School in Midlothian have a particularly interesting – and potentially rewarding – opportunity in the school’s Health Science Specialty Center.

Since Cosby’s center was established in September 2007, its teachers and administrators have worked closely with VCU faculty to offer programs for students who want to prepare for and pursue careers in the health-care industry. The School of Pharmacy’s representative is Thomas Reinders, associate dean for admissions and student services.

Beginning in the spring of 2008, each of the MCV Campus schools have offered modules as part of a course coordinated by Seth Leibowitz, director of pre-health sciences advising for VCU University College, and Donna Jackson, director of outreach for the School of Medicine. The course includes in-class exercises, lectures and lab experiences for the high-school students.

Reinders says the pharmacy module consists of didactic and experiential approaches to educating students about the role of pharmacists in healh care.

During the spring 2009 module, Ron Ballentine, associate professor of pharmacy and assistant director of admissions and student services, and Tyler Stevens, assistant professor of pharmacy, served as lecturers. The session was followed by special laboratory exercises in the R. Blackwell Smith Jr. Building. Trish Horning, instructor of pharmacy; Donna Francioni-Proffitt, assistant professor of pharmacy; and about 15 SOP students assisted Stevens and Ballentine.

When the center opened, Cosby Principal Brenda Mayo noted that the opportunities to visit local health-science facilities and to work with college students and health professionals in a “real-world environment” would be the program’s most important components.

Every Chesterfield County high school has a specialty center; the topics range from the arts to technology. To learn more about Cosby High School’s Health Science Specialty Center collaboration with the university, click here.