MIKE offers Pipeline to Public Health Careers

MIKE Program Manager Kristin Dreves, MPH, CHES, guides youth toward healthier foods.

MIKE joins a cadre of community leaders promoting National Public Health Week, April 4-10, 2016. The week is celebrated each year to recognize the contributions of educators and health care professionals in improving health in their communities.

As a public health initiative, MIKE Program equips youth with personal resilience, knowledge and skills to improve health outcomes for themselves and others. MIKE’s health-science focus brings hands-on activities guided by near-age mentors, who serve as positive role models for the youth.

MIKE’s mentors volunteer weekly for at least one academic semester to inspire youth toward healthier behaviors. Half of all MIKE mentors this year are on track for a career in public health.

“I am very passionate about public health and advocating to those in need of proper health education,” says Sarah Dinh, MIKE mentor and Portland State University (PSU) undergraduate in the Public Health Sciences Department. “I believe that communities need more health education from those educated in the field to lower rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.”

Fellow MIKE mentor Julia Liu agrees. “My goal is to mentor high school youth towards a healthier lifestyle, especially with nutrition” says Liu. Also an undergraduate in public health at PSU, Liu volunteers with MIKE to emphasize the importance of health in the community and how youth can use their voices to impact their future.

Besides PSU’s public health and child and family services programs, MIKE partners with a variety of other health science institutions.  MIKE’s youth programs at Miller Education Center West and Liberty High School attract graduate and doctoral students from Pacific University, School of Professional Psychology. MIKE’s mentors and content experts help anchor a long history with Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine and Human Nutrition Programs, as well as the Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness.

MIKE provides youth with opportunities throughout the program to discover health careers through their mentors and content experts. MIKE youth team up with volunteers for blood pressure clinics. They tour dialysis clinics to see first-hand the effects of kidney disease. MIKE youth meet guest speakers who provide unique insights into health professions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25 of the 100 top paying jobs in Oregon is in health care. Providence Health & Services projects health care careers to be the second largest industry for job growth in Oregon.

MIKE provides youth with opportunities for direct engagement with professionals in the health care industry. During a recent MIKE session at Liberty High School, Allie Bieker, a Providence School Outreach coordinator spoke to MIKE youth about how they can prepare for health careers most in demand. Bieker pointed out that science and math-related courses remain a key academic focus, and also highlighted other skills that are in growing demand, including skills in computer technology, second languages and public engagement.

Before youth complete MIKE’s programming, they develop and share a health leadership project to engage directly with their community. The projects are youth-driven, solution-based outcomes of MIKE’s programming, reinforcing a foundation of health skills that will help youth succeed academically and professionally.

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