They arrived at the Anschutz Medical Campus when it was still dark on the last day of November – more than 100 high school students from Douglas County taking a pre-med class. Many of the students entered University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Center for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE) at the Anschutz Medical Campus not knowing what to expect. Many left CAPE energized at the thought of a career in health care.
The class started five years ago with 40 teens at Chaparral High School in Parker. Now, 111 students from Chaparral, Ponderosa High School and Douglas County High School go to class at 6 a.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to take part in pre-med.
CAPE is an experiential stop on the pre-med journey, it allows students to take part in crisis situations in a safe environment. Students learn how to work as a team and communicate with one another as the simulation using human patient simulators unfolds.
The pre-med class in Douglas County was initiated by Chris Stirrup, a science and math teacher at Chaparral, who says the collaboration with CAPE is invaluable to the students. “CAPE gives kids a preview of the medical profession and gives them an idea of what to expect when they get to medical school. This class also helps the teens figure out if they want to pursue a career in health care,” Stirrup said.
Stirrup explained some kids decide they are not interested in a career in medicine, which can be a helpful realization. Those that continue on the path to health care make valuable contacts and gain experience building their careers.
Susan St. Pierre, a standardized physical exam teaching associate at CAPE, likes working with young people. “The kids get excited about different parts of medicine they haven’t seen. They learn how to do vitals and feel pulses and you can see their eyes light up,” she said.