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Educational Pipeline Program
The Educational Pipeline Program is a partnership between the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) and the Netter Center that works closely with the School of Veterinary Medicine, the Masters of Public Health Program, the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management (new in 2021-2022), and West Philadelphia high schools (i.e. Mastery Charter School - Shoemaker Campus, Paul Robeson High School, West Philadelphia High School, and William L. Sayre High School) to provide mentorship and education for high school students while exposing them to a variety of careers in medicine, public health, research, management, and other healthcare-adjacent fields. Fall programming is integrated into the high school science curriculum during the school day, and the spring component operates at PSOM and the Veterinary School as an afterschool program.
The mission of the Educational Pipeline Program is to encourage high school students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine to aspire to medical science careers.
The Netter Center for Community Partnerships, the Perelman School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, Masters of Public Health Program, and Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management collaborate to provide mentorship and education at all levels:
- High school students are taught by undergraduates and graduate students
- Undergraduates learn from graduate students
- Graduate students are guided by faculty
The Pipeline Program allows college students, medical trainees, physicians-in- training, and faculty at the University of Pennsylvania to contribute meaningfully to our local community while simultaneously advancing teaching, learning and research at Penn.
- Foster mentorship across multiple tiers
- Demonstrate to high school students to the importance of post-secondary education in addition to introducing them to a variety of careers in medicine and healthcare
- Help medical students and other Penn students and faculty learn to communicate effectively about medical problems in “plain English”
- Inform high school students how to reduce significant health disparities affecting minorities and their communities.
Academic Year Program
In the fall semester, high school students participate in an introductory medical science curriculum taught by University of Pennsylvania undergraduates. Each high school then selects students for the spring semester program based on the students’ interest and level of engagement.
Then, in the spring semester, the Netter Center helps these students travel to the University after school for 75-minute in-depth lessons. These interactive lessons focus primarily on health issues that are prevalent in the high school students’ community. The students get to have some fun learning what it is like to be a doctor by conducting experiments, performing dissections, examining specimens, and going on a field trip to the New Bolton Center—the School of Veterinary Medicine’s large animal hospital. This portion of the program occurs one afternoon per week for 12 weeks.
Career Day is held midway through the spring semester and exposes students to the variety of careers in medicine and health care, as well as the summer programs available to them at Penn. The Program culminates with a final presentation. Undergraduate and graduate students help the high school students prepare by working in small groups to review medical literature, perform Internet searches, prepare a slide presentation, and practice public speaking skills. Families of the high school students are invited to watch their students give presentations on their selected topic.
Throughout the academic year, Pipeline’s design team, consisting of teachers from partner high schools, advise graduate student coordinators and undergraduate teaching assistants while supporting program implementation and evaluation.
Pipeline Plus is a six-week summer internship program partially funded by Philadelphia Youth Network's summer WorkReady program. Pipeline Plus is supervised by Netter Center staff and taught by MPH students from Penn's Center for Public Health Initiatives and Penn undergraduates, and Pipeline Plus alumni.
Pipeline Plus interns learn about public health concepts and careers through hands-on field-based activities in the areas of
- Environmental Health
- Chronic Disease Prevention
- Injury Prevention
- Infectious Disease
Pipeline Plus helps students not only be aware of issues prevalent in their communities but also engages them as community health leaders.
In 1998, Karen Hamilton, PhD, created the Educational Pipeline Program in the Perelman School of Medicine as part of Project 3000 by 2000: an ambitious program launched by the Association of American Medical Colleges to increase the matriculation of underrepresented people of color in medical school to a total of 3000 students by the year 2000.
The Pipeline Program initially served high school students from African American, Hispanic, and financially-disadvantaged backgrounds from Thomas A. Edison and Overbrook High Schools. In 2003, the Pipeline Program combined forces with the Netter Center for Community Partnerships to form a strong and enduring relationship with Sayre High School. In 2014, the Netter Center began to recruit West Philadelphia High School students to the program. In 2016, the Netter Center partnered with Mastery Charter School - Shoemaker Campus, and in 2019, with Paul Robeson High School. The program currently works with students from Sayre, West Philadelphia, Mastery-Shoemaker, and Robeson High Schools.
When the Pipeline Program began, the curriculum was focused on neuroscience. Over the years other subjects were trialed: infectious diseases, cardiology, and gastroenterology. Today, the Pipeline Program is a comprehensive program that teaches students about gastroenterology in 9th grade, neurology in 10th grade, and cardiology in 11th grade. In 2015, the School of Veterinary Medicine joined the program and developed a curriculum for 12th grade. In 2021, the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management (LSM) joined the program and developed an LSM curriculum for 11th grade and 12th grade students, to be implemented beginning Fall 2022.
Recently, the Educational Pipeline program, which works with four West Philadelphia public high schools, has engaged the following numbers of students:
- Spring 2019: 69 high school students with support of 20 Penn students (undergraduate, medical, and veterinary medicine)
- Summer 2020: 24 high school students with support of four Penn students (undergraduate and MPH)
- Fall 2020: eight high school classrooms with support of 40 Penn undergraduates
- Spring 2020 (transitioned to virtual): 89 high school students with support of 29 Penn students (undergraduate, medical, and veterinary medicine)
- Summer 2020 (virtual): 16 high school students with support of four Penn students (undergraduate and MPH)
- Fall 2020 (virtual): eight high school classrooms plus four additional student cohorts with support of 77 Penn undergraduates
Spring 2021 (virtual): 51 high school students with support of 20 Penn students (undergraduate, medical, and veterinary medicine)
Summer 2021 (hybrid): 16 high school students with support of five Penn students (undergraduate and MPH) and three Pipeline Plus alumni
Fall 2021 (in-person): 11 high school classrooms with support of 51 Penn undergraduates
Spring 2022 (in-person): 72 high school students with support of 36 Penn students (undergraduate, medical, graduate and veterinary medicine)
Summer 2022 (in-person): TBD high school students with support of two Penn students (undergraduate and MPH) and three Pipeline Plus alumni
We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of Samuel A. Funt, MD, C’05 and Mia Belldegrun Funt, C’05 as the first-ever donors to the Educational Pipeline Program. Mrs. Funt was a volunteer at Sayre High School as an undergraduate and is now on the board of Technoserve and President and Co-Founder of ByHeart, a fully integrated baby nutrition company dedicated to translating leading nutrition science into products that set the best foundation for babies’ health. Dr. Funt is an oncologist and cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; he was a UPENN Pipeline participant as a sophomore undergraduate and then went on to co-found the Educational Pipeline Program at Emory University as a medical student.
Please contact Educational Pipeline Program Coordinator, Jennifer Lee, firstname.lastname@example.org, with any questions.
The Educational Pipeline Program is an educational initiative operated by the Perelman School of Medicine and facilitated by the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Pipeline works to provide mentorship and education for high school students while exposing them to a variety of careers in medicine and healthcare. With support and training, Penn students get the unique opportunity to teach lessons in Neurology, Cardiology, and Veterinary Medicine in high schools. Learn more at www.med.upenn.edu/pipeline.