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Making an Impact: New CSA partnership with Project Lead the Way and UC Davis Department of Anesthesiology to support biomedical curricula in three Sacramento area high schools

Reihaneh Forghany headshotThe California Society of Anesthesiologists is pleased to announce the launch of its latest partnership with Project Lead the Way (PLTW) to support biomedical sciences curricula and hands-on learning opportunities for high school students in California. The CSA Foundation for Education worked with PLTW and the UC Davis Department of Anesthesiology to bring this valuable partnership to three high schools in the Sacramento region: River City High School in West Sacramento, Antelope High School, and Pleasant Grove High School in Elk Grove.

CSA’s support primarily provides funding for teacher training, so they are equipped toPLTW Sacramento 1 teach students about real-world biomedical challenges and engage in compelling, hands-on activities. The partnership with UC Davis Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine connects the high school students with anesthesiologists and anesthesiology residents, who help supplement the core curricula with presentations and workshops using mannequins, airway equipment, ultrasounds, and other tools to teach concepts related to airway management, cardio-pulmonary physiology and anatomy, and basic life support. This exciting opportunity bridges the gap between high school students and physicians and allows the students to gain exposure to the field of medicine from early on.    

At the partnership launch event, which was held in April at River City High School, Mark Zakowski, MD, FASA, Chair of the CSA Foundation for Education and Professor of Anesthesiology at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, encouraged the high school students to “applaud yourselves for showing up, being interested in learning more, and working hard to engage with the sciences.” He said the CSA Foundation for Education hopes to grow the CSA / PLTW partnership in other areas of the state in coming years.

Jennifer Ward with Project Lead the Way noted that the curriculum allows students to not only learn technical skills related to science and healthcare, but to also learn “soft” transportable skills like problem solving, critical thinking, and career readiness.

pic 3As the director of PLTW at UC Davis, I shared my personal experience regarding PLTW and visiting the high school students. I was truly impressed with how bright and engaged the students were and how advanced their level of knowledge was regarding the topics we covered during our workshops. My colleagues Amy Chen, MD, and Kevin Nguyen, MD, also attended the launch event and shared their experiences. “Being a part of this partnership and having the opportunity to give back to the community has truly enriched my residency experience.” Our team also conducted an exercise with students to demonstrate intubation and review key considerations of airway management.

Teachers from each of the three participating high schools spoke and noted how rewarding the program is for both the students and teachers. Kalina Moore, lead PLTW teacher at Antelope High School, shared that the PLTW hands-on learning has helped with restoring a bit of normalcy for the classroom after two years of COVID-related disruptions that created many challenges. She said that students and teachers alike are engaged and the PLTW program offers a spark and creates a different type of energy and motivation.

Thomas Mellin, lead PLTW teacher at River City High School, provided a tour of classrooms that teach the biomedical curriculum and showcased student work including poster boards and reports, as well as the health and science equipment used in their studies.

During a roundtable session, students from all three high schools commented on thepic 9 value of the PLTW Biomedical Sciences curriculum and the engagement by the UC Davis Department of Anesthesiology.  Comments included: “I didn’t really feel engaged in school until I joined the PLTW program;” and “the anesthesiology residents helped us understand that they have lives outside of the operating room, filled with fun and family;” and “the experience at the Simulation Center helped me realize that I could see myself in medicine one day.”  When the fourth-year students were asked if they planned to pursue careers in healthcare, 100% of the students raised their hand.

Genevieve Levy from the Office of Assemblymember Kevin McCarty and Daniel Washington from the Office of Assemblymember Jim Cooper presented the teachers, students, and anesthesiology team with legislative certificates of recognition noting the value of the program for introducing youth to exciting career pathways and inspiring them to work hard and pursue their dreams.

This is a very unique and exciting partnership that is aimed at nurturing interest and growth in the future healthcare workforce. It is a “win” for the teachers, students, and residents who participate directly in the program implementation, as well as for CSA and the communities who benefit from a quality healthcare system and motivated youth interested in pursuing healthcare careers.

For more information on the partnership, please contact CSA Executive Director Dave Butler.

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