By Lauren Hayes and Paul Rizzo
On September 14, 2022, current Revere High School (RHS) students presented a poster at the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) Academic Poster Session at the Row Hotel at Assembly Row. The students presented alongside Dr. Paul Rizzo, who graduated from RHS in 2011 and is currently in his third year of a family medicine residency at CHA.
The poster highlighted the work of the RHS PRE Health program, which was founded by Dr. Rizzo in 2019 with the support of Revere Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dianne Kelly, and is now co-lead by Dr. Rizzo and Lauren Hayes, a physical therapy student and 2014 graduate of RHS. PRE Health’s mission is to empower underrepresented minority students to pursue careers in healthcare by providing mentorship and hands-on opportunities to learn about different health professions. This overarching objective prompted HaiAu Nguyen, a senior Co-President of the program, to coin the name PRE Health – an acronym for “Prepare, Reach, Explore.”
Since the program’s inception over 15 RHS alumni have volunteered to speak with students, fielding questions about their professions and the educational paths they took to get there. Additionally, Dr. Rizzo and a fellow medical resident at CHA have offered a series of case-based learning sessions, where students were able to learn and apply basic medical skills in a virtual environment.
Over the past year, Dr. Rizzo, Lauren Hayes, and a group of student leaders have been collecting data from students who have attended these alumni speaker sessions to learn more about the impact that the PRE Health program is having. Of the students who agreed to share their experience as it relates to their involvement with the PRE Health program, 60% are hopeful first-generation college students and 100% are from a minority background. An emerging theme from the data is that the PRE Health program has been successful in inspiring students to consider a career in healthcare, which supports the notion that urban school pipeline programs such as this may help facilitate a more diverse healthcare workforce that can reduce health inequities.
In addition to providing an alumni speaker series and case-based learning opportunities throughout the course of the upcoming school year, the PRE Health program will be offering students a shadowing experience at Cambridge Health Alliance and opportunities to learn hands-on clinical skills. If you are an RHS alum currently working in a health profession and have interest in being involved with the PRE Health program, please contact [email protected]