Now is the Time to Engage the Next Generation of Providers

By CINDY SANDERS


MeharryNOW Initiative Seeks to Spark Interest in Health Science

Last month, more than 350 Meharry Medical College students, faculty and staff participated in a daylong community outreach effort at two area middle schools. The event marked the launch of MeharryNOW, an exciting new initiative aimed at fostering youth interest in the health sciences.

By 2025, the United States is projected to have a shortage of 46,000 to 90,000 physicians, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. In addition, minorities continue to be underrepresented throughout the healthcare spectrum and account for only about 4 percent of practicing physicians.

"Through MeharryNOW, we hope to reverse these trends by strengthening the pipeline of potential candidates for the health professions industry as a whole," explained Meharry President James E.K. Hildreth, PhD, MD. "We hope to demonstrate to local youth the power of science and encourage them to pursue a health-related career."

The October initiative consisted of a two-part project: teaching science classes at Creswell Middle Prep School and Haynes Middle Health/Medical Science Design

Center and building a greenhouse at Haynes that will allow students to conduct experiments related to botany, horticulture and technology in any weather conditions. Teams from Meharry were on-site at both schools engaging students in hands-on projects in dental and clinical exploration, a healthy people challenge, and a health-related project.

"I am especially grateful to Creswell and Haynes for being the first to welcome MeharryNOW and allow us to bring our passion for the health sciences into their classrooms," said Hildreth. "Today, our nation faces an alarming shortage of not only primary care doctors ... but minorities in all healthcare-related fields. With the help of our students, faculty and staff, we believe we can narrow this gap by introducing science and health careers at an early age."

Architectural firm Moody Nolan designed the greenhouse for the Haynes campus, and Pinnacle Construction Partners, LLC, provided general contracting services to support its construction. "The greenhouse will provide a unique learning environment for students and will give faculty the opportunity to teach new subjects, such as botany, first-hand. Students will be able to explore science in ways they've never before," said Brian Tibbs, partner at Moody Nolan.

Trellaney Lane, executive principal at Cresswell Middle Prep said the partnership with Meharry served a very important role. "By exposing our students to the world of medicine, we are extending the possibilities for their future," she said.

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