Twenty-three high school students are getting a unique opportunity to learn about careers in the health care field from inside UCLA's hospitals, thanks to a new hands-on internship program.

This select group of seniors from Hamilton High School in Los Angeles are participating in a 40-hour paid internship for three months that will give them the chance to work at UCLA's two medical centers in such departments as rehabilitation services, child life services and respiratory care. The interns will also attend several professional development and career readiness workshops.

The internship program was created when Lauren and Robert (Bobby) Turner decided to partner wiith UCLA Health to find a way to expose students from underserved areas in Los Angeles to various careers in allied health and create job opportunities for them. 

“This internship program will give students the chance to explore health care careers that maybe they would not have known about before,” said Bobby Turner. “We feel it is a great opportunity for them to get the education and training they need to launch their future careers.”

Jason Vong/UCLA
The first group of interns who were selected to participate in a program created by Lauren and Robert (Bobby) Turner began to work at UCLA's two medical centers early in February.

Allied health professionals comprise nearly 60 percent of the health care workforce. These positions are in high demand and offer a good wage, health insurance and other benefits. Yet many students are unaware that there are many other opportunities in health care besides being a physician or a nurse. The program aims to help build the future workforce that represents the communities that UCLA serves.

“This program will provide students the opportunity to learn firsthand about careers in the allied health care field and to gain insights into how to successfully enter these careers as a long-term profession or as a stepping stone to careers in medicine, nursing, dentistry or other positions in health care that require more years of education,” said Dr. Carol Mangione, director of the David Geffen School of Medicine Community Engagement Group.

"The Turner-UCLA internship is an amazing way to learn about the allied healthcare field," said Rafael Enciso, a senior at Hamilton High School. "Through direct clinical interaction, I will be able to learn firsthand what I wouldn’t possibly learn for years had I not had this opportunity.”

This inaugural group of interns was selected for the program based on a rigorous application process that required submission of a one-page essay about their interests in allied health careers, teacher recommendations and an interview.

After completing the internship, the students can apply for scholarships to attend accredited training programs in allied health.

To find more information about community engagement programs in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, go here.