KGI three pharmacy professors

Keck Graduate Institute Helps Introduce Area Students to High-Tech Healthcare

A doctor or nurse is what typically comes to mind when young people think about health professionals. Often, they’re unaware that other career paths exist in health fields.

Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) is participating in an upcoming event designed to help change that perception. Titled “High-Tech Healthcare: The Future of Precision Medicine,” it will introduce students of high school and community college age to genomics, telemedicine, robotics, and wearable devices with healthcare applications.

The event will take place at San Bernardino Valley College on Saturday, March 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with approximately 100 students expected to attend.

Gail Orum, a professor of clinical and administrative sciences and the associate dean for assessment and faculty development at the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, is among those excited by KGI’s involvement in this event sponsored by the Inland Health Professions Coalition.

“One of their goals is to provide pipelines for underrepresented populations to work in the healthcare field,” Orum says. “KGI is in the same region, and we also value diversity. We want to identify interested students and encourage them to think about health careers and KGI.”

Members of the KGI faculty will be among the presenters at the event. Assistant Professor Anna Hickerson, whose background is in bioengineering and the design of diagnostic instruments, will discuss the development of medical devices and wearables. She also plans to include demonstrations of devices such as ECG and blood pressure monitors.

“Technology is shrinking these devices, so they can be used in a home setting instead of a hospital,” says Hickerson, who will address potential career opportunities at companies that develop healthcare technologies.

Sara Low, the director of interprofessional education and an assistant professor at KGI’s School of Pharmacy, is also participating in the event. She will talk about opportunities in telemedicine, drawing on the experience with the technology she gained while working with the Indian Health Service in Alaska.

“I love inspiring the next generation, so I’m excited to open these opportunities to students who wouldn’t know about them otherwise,” says Low, who helped serve the Alaska Native population living in remote villages too small to have a permanent pharmacist or physician.”Telepharmacy and telemedicine are now becoming more widespread, not just in remote areas, but also for the cost savings they provide.”

Orum believes participants will come away with an awareness of the wide range of health professions, the growing role of technology in healthcare, and the importance of gaining expertise with this technology.

She also believes this first-time collaboration between KGI and the Inland Health Professions Coalition will lead to others in the future. Orum notes, “We’re already looking at collaborating on a grant proposal.”