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Northwestern Medicine Discovery Program Guides Career Choices

Cultivating the Next Generation of Healthcare Workers

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

It's a common question for children. For high school students who answer "a doctor," "a nurse," or "I want to work in health care," the Northwestern Medicine Discovery Program can help them achieve their dreams.

Designed for students interested in a career in health care, the Discovery Program introduces participants to various opportunities the medical field. Through tours, guest speakers and hands-on experiences, participants learn about different programs, services and areas of medicine. The program also supports character and professional development, encourages networking, provides leadership experience and facilitates community service.

Sharon Groble, whose daughter Fiona participated in the Discovery Program, learned about it through a friend. "My friend would always rave about the program," she says. "She told me her daughter loved it and was learning so much. She'd also update me periodically, and it always stuck with me."

When Fiona was a sophomore in high school, she started expressing an interest in a healthcare career. Sharon knew just the program to suggest for her daughter.

"The Discovery Program has really been a life-changing experience for her," says Groble.

The one-year program runs during the school year and has meetings one Saturday morning a month. The Northwestern Medicine Scholars Program oversees chapters of the program at five Northwestern Medicine hospitals across Chicagoland. Participation in the chapters is based on county residency, and students must apply to be accepted into the program.

"I was a member of the West Region Chapter, and participated during COVID. I was still so engaged through Zoom and always wanted it to last longer," says Fiona. "I learned something new in each session, and was able to ask so many questions and received great, elaborate responses."

"Fiona was born premature, and I always told her different stories of me bonding with the nurses while she was in the neonatal intensive care unit," says Groble. "We do not have any family in health care, so there were no role models for Fiona to look up to or get advice from. This program filled all those voids for her."

Fiona also participated in an internship at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. She learned about the opportunity through the Discovery Program. "Without this program, I would still be figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life," she says. "I had such a great experience and would recommend it to anyone interested in health care. I finally know what I want to do in my career because of this experience."

As a senior, Fiona was accepted into the nursing program at Carroll University in Wisconsin.

Applications for the Northwestern Medicine Discovery Program open in the summer for current high school students.