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About the American Indian Health Career Ladder

Sherman Indian High School, Cal Poly Pomona, Pitzer College, and Western University of Health Sciences have partnered with each other to create a pipeline to guide and promote Sherman Indian High School students through their education to careers as health care professionals. Dr. Philip Pumerantz, President of Western University of Health Sciences, has championed the idea of a "Career Ladder" since 1983.

Dr. Pumerantz talking to students"Pipeline" projects such as this one are typically divided into two types: programs that work with "downstream" students, defined as those who are near the health professional stages of their education; or "upstream" students, defined as K-12. The American Indian Health Career Ladder is unique, connecting both the upstream and downstream components in a long-term, multi-institution cooperative arrangement.

The Career Ladder will foster interest in the health professions, develop math and science skills, guide students through an undergraduate health/science degree and into any of the professional training programs at WesternU through a program-based network of outreach, guidance, mentoring and financial counseling. The ultimate goal is to produce health care professionals who will serve their community. Participants will learn about planning careers as physicians, dentists, veterinarians, physical therapists, physician assistants, podiatrists, optometrists, pharmacists, and more.

Dr. Pumerantz speaking to studentsThe program will also give students a goal to aspire to, a vision of future possibilities.

"This gives children a chance to become successful and to make a contribution to society," says Dr. Pumerantz "It's to give children in the school system a view of what their future could be."

An Advisory Board consisting of scholars and health professionals from all participating institutions is in place to guide the curriculum, design the Biomedical Scholar Program, and develop the process of mentoring and moving students through the system.