American Indian youth encouraged to consider healthcare careers at summit on April 15

AIYWS_Logo_Final-01Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan to address youth in their medical lab coats at end of day

Hennepin Healthcare’s Talent Garden series continues its successful outreach to young people with its American Indian Youth with Stethoscopes Summit on Saturday, April 15 from 9-3:15 p.m. American Indian men and women ages 12-18 who are interested in learning about healthcare careers have filled all of the slots for this summit – the first one that is specific for American Indian youth.

“Nearly a third are from out of town – and at last count, we have 28 tribal affiliations among the registrants from Minnesota and Wisconsin,” explains Aida Strom (Sisitowan Wahpetowan Dakota), Health Equity Community Engagement Program Manager at Hennepin Healthcare.  “Each of our Youth Summit participants receives a white lab coat with his or her name embroidered on it – and for this event, we’re also including their tribal affiliation. We are so excited about the outpouring of interest for this event and hope that it’s indicative of the future of our healthcare workforce.”

Dr. Thomas Wyatt (Shawnee/Quapaw), Senior Medical Director of Emergency Services at Hennepin Healthcare, is one of the panelists who will meet with every one of the student groups throughout the day.

“We need more American Indian representation in healthcare. We have a long history of caring for others – and we can all make a difference in people’s lives. Whether it’s as a physician, a nurse, a technician role – everyone has an essential purpose in the health and wellbeing of our patients. We are honored to be here to encourage and support our future healthcare colleagues.”

Similar to the other Youth Summits, the American Indian Youth with Stethoscopes Summit will begin with a keynote speaker (Dr. Mary Owen from the University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth) and introduction of panelists who will share their experience and tips for pursuing a career in healthcare. Participants will rotate in groups to experience hands-on learning activities throughout various stations in dentistry, ultrasound, dermatology, pathology, and in the Simulation Center caring for “patients” as they deliver babies and stitch wounds.

Panelists also include Dr. Casey Dorr from Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute, and medical students of the U of M Med School chapter of ANAMS (the Association of Native American Medical Students)  whose U of M chapter leaders have embraced the event and will also escort students throughout the day. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has also greatly contributed to the success of this event.

“This Summit will differ from others as we incorporate traditional indigenous practices into the day,” said Strom. “We will open with a traditional prayer offered in the morning, and later, we will be entertained with traditional dancers and drums. Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan will conclude our day with a sendoff speech when we reconvene as a group at 2:30 p.m.”

What:             American Indian Youth with Stethoscopes Summit
When:            Saturday, April 15, 2023 from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
Where:           Hennepin Healthcare’s Clinic & Specialty Center
715 S. 8th St., Minneapolis, MN 55404
Free parking is available in the ramp beneath the clinic building; entrance is located at 821 S. Park Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55404

The American Indian Youth with Stethoscopes Summit is part of a series of initiatives and events organized by Hennepin Healthcare through its Talent Garden program to expose youth to careers in medicine, while connecting youth to high quality work-based learning opportunities and creating access to a network of healthcare professionals of color.

Hennepin Healthcare’s Digital Equity Xperts (DEX) program connects patients with technology and their healthcare

For patients who have limited access to digital technology, signing on to their patient record can be a challenge – if not altogether impossible.

“Not everyone has a cellphone – or even access to the internet,” explains Dr. Ryan Jelinek, Medical Director for Telehealth and Patient Access at Hennepin Healthcare, who created the Digital Equity Xpert program where patients are connected with digital navigators to help train and educate them about online tools to better access their healthcare resources – most importantly, their electronic health records.

“Digital literacy to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities is a priority within our healthcare system. Just getting to that place often identifies inequities like lack of device access, or poor broadband or cellular connectivity. Regardless of access to technology, there may be limited digital literacy, that impedes a patient’s ability to use these tools. Our goal is to have patients feel comfortable in accessing the resources they need and feel included in their care.”

More than 800 patients have been helped by the DEX program since it began in March 2022 to address the gaps in digital access by providing at-the-elbow support to patients who may need extra assistance. While much of the support provided is related to healthcare tools like the patient’s electronic health record, the scope of support extends far beyond that to things like helping set up an email address or referring them to county programs that may be able to assist with hardware and broadband solutions at little or no cost.

How does it work?

Like the Talent Garden and other community-focused initiatives at Hennepin Healthcare, the Digital Equity Xperts program has a dual focus on diversity and equity for both the Hennepin Healthcare team and more broadly in their communities.

Through a partnership with Teen HOPE, Hennepin Healthcare provides training and workplace opportunities to interns in the DEX program to fast-track them to careers in healthcare. Through these internships, they gain experience working within a healthcare setting toward their career goals, meeting patients at the bedside or at clinic appointments to provide education.

“It’s a win-win program for everyone,” said Dr. Jelinek. “The patients are more involved in their healthcare experience and choices, the DEX intern gains experience toward their career goals, and Hennepin Healthcare benefits from having a more involved patient, and potentially another colleague considering a rewarding healthcare career.”

Hennepin Healthcare is a nationally recognized system of care that includes HCMC, a Level I Adult Trauma Center and Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center with the largest emergency department in Minnesota. The comprehensive academic medical center and public teaching hospital includes a 484-bed acute care hospital as well as primary care and specialty clinics located in downtown Minneapolis its surrounding communities.