The pipeline programs are designed to find undergraduate students from rural and underserved communities who want to study medicine, nursing or another health profession at UNMC. The students were on campus for a weeklong, one-credit course, "Health Professions Opportunities Workshop: Integration of Prevention and Population Health Across the Health Professions," led by the UNMC Department of Family Medicine, UNMC Primary Care Center and the Nebraska Area Health Education Center Program.
"We are making efforts to promote primary care as a career choice, but also to start building community among pipeline students and between these pipeline students and our campus," said Liliana Bronner, assistant professor of family medicine.
That effort was a success, students reported.
"The most interesting thing has been interacting with RHOP and KHOP students," said Daniela Cortes Reyes, a Bellevue native and UNO student in the UHOP program. "I've had a lot of exposure to the needs of people who are underserved in the capacity of being in an urban environment, but never in a rural environment. The needs of those communities obviously need to be met, and it's wonderful seeing that other students are trying to meet those needs."
Ayza Bolanos, a UNO student from Grand Island, enjoyed the chance to visit UNMC.
"I don't really get a chance to be on this campus a lot," she said. "It is getting me excited."
Other students were from small Nebraska hometowns such as Gibbon, Exeter, Holdrege, Neligh and Paxton.
This is the first year for the program, Bronner said. The Department of Family Medicine opened it to all students in the UNMC pipeline programs, but mixed them into small groups, teaming students from other institutions and students with varied health profession interests.
The program also expanded horizons with its job shadowing efforts. Cortes Reyes shadowed Todd Eberle, D.O., a family medicine/pediatrics physician for Fremont Health Family Care, marking the first time the pre-med student had shadowed a D.O.
"That was interesting, to see his holistic approach to care," she said.
Bolanos, also pre-med, shadowed nurse practitioner Connie Daniel at the OneWorld Plattsmouth Clinic.
"I think nurse practitioners get more time with their patients, and I think in a rural community, you'll see more of that tie with a nurse practitioner," Bolanos said.
Many students said the course and the experience of being at UNMC helped confirm for them they were on the right track with their health care career plans. University of Nebraska at Kearney pre-med student Alaini Preibe called the course a confidence booster.
"I definitely would encourage others to go outside their comfort zone and take workshops like this," she said.