De Anza students learn about a career in health care at panel2 min read

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Panelists advised healthcare students about reaching out to underserved communities at the “Healthcare Providers Career Panel” on May 12 as part of a panel series about healthcare workers.

Rosafel Nogra, the clinic director at De Anza College and a family nurse practitioner, said reaching out to underserved communities is the hardest part of her job.

“Challenges for me, as far as my career is concerned, is really outreaching,” Nogra said. “I want to make sure there’s enough outreach going on in our community, especially with low-income students.”

Dr. Jennifer Domingo-Mihalko, obstetrics and gynecology specialist, said that there are programs with scholarships for students who wish to treat underserved communities.

“Once you finish residency, there are programs which you can sign up for, knowing that medical school education is expensive, (which have) scholarships to help you pay,” Domingo-Mihaiko said. “There’s the National Health Service Corps and a couple of programs out there that if you commit to working in an underserved area, you can get your medical school paid for.”

Domingo-Mihalko added that this outreach helps combat systemic racism.

“What my residents and I are being taught is that (healthcare disparity) has nothing to do with race, but it has to do with racism,” Domingo-Mihaiko said. “And all the things that structural racism brings to being able to provide good education, access to care, and understanding someone’s barriers to health.”

Pre-med students interested in this work do not have to worry about their major, said Dr. Dana Salvador, senior physician of the Department of Adult and Family Medicine at Kaiser Permanente.

“It’s always a good idea to do something that you like and are interested in in college, then also take your pre-med classes,” Salvador said. “Traditionally, most people do chemistry or biology. I didn’t and it worked out okay for me.”

William Firmender, director of Psychological Services at De Anza, also recommended looking for internships at community mental health organizations.

“The agencies that most need people, to help run or support a peer-led group or something like that, are community mental health organizations,” Firmender said. “These are places that might rely on donor funding or they might rely on governmental funding that might not be enough to cover all their staffing needs.”

You can find more healthcare events here.

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