Newsroom | Collaborative Care

  • Share to Linked in
  • Share to Facebook

Connecting Tulsa Students to Medical Career Pathways 

The Tulsa Higher Education Consortium is leveraging the power of peer support to expose local high school students to medical career pathways and close health care gaps in Tulsa-area communities.

As the convening organization of eight higher education institutions in the Tulsa area, the consortium works with universities and colleges to help students attain their degrees and build an equitable workforce that reflects the neighborhoods being served.

With the help of a $20,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, the consortium is continuing its six-month paid Campus Ambassador Medical fellowship that allows high school students to learn about various medical degree programs in Tulsa and share those opportunities with their peers.

The Blue ImpactSM grant is part of BCBSOK’s mission to expand economic opportunity to communities across the state, meet local workforce needs and improve health outcomes for Oklahomans.

“Ultimately, we want our students to self-invest in Tulsa and their own communities,” says Aaron Wilson, director of Programs and Scholarships at the Tulsa Higher Education Consortium. “Tulsa is growing, and we have great opportunities and pathways. We want to make sure we’re helping our students navigate those pathways.”

The Campus Ambassador Medical Program is accepting applications from sophomores, juniors and seniors through the fall. Come spring, 25 student ambassadors will begin monthly sessions to learn about medical career options at Langston University, Northeastern State University, Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, Rogers State University, Tulsa Community College, The University of Tulsa and Southern Nazarene University-Tulsa.

During the first half of the program, students perform virtual assignments to better understand medical careers, specifically understaffed fields such as nursing, radiology and dentistry. With help from the grant, ambassadors then can travel in-person to consortium colleges and learn directly from experts.

After these sessions, ambassadors will brainstorm how to share the information they have learned with their high school peers. By the end of the fellowship, ambassadors will be experts on Tulsa’s higher education options and share their insights at a community event.

“BCBSOK is happy to make a unique investment in the Tulsa Higher Education Consortium, as we expand our focus through our Blue Impact grants to support economic stability in our communities and provide opportunities for students to be exposed to a wide range of health careers available to them after graduation,” says BCBSOK’s Director of Community Affairs Brooke Townsend.

Achieving an associate or four-year degree is associated with better long-term pay and health outcomes, according to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

This year, the program is expanding into new school districts in disadvantaged communities to ensure career pathways are open for all students, Wilson says.

“Anytime we can expose underserved communities or students to opportunities that will change their personal outcomes it’s always a privilege,” he says. “Even if the end goal is realizing they don't want to be in health care, that's fine because that's an important learning opportunity.”

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association