(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

This article is presented in partnership with CA Lottery.

“What do I want to be when I grow up?” is a question most of us muse over as kids. Of course, princess and astronaut are always on the list but for many, becoming a doctor feels like an impossible dream. For kids in Southern California, Kaiser Permanente is changing that with the Hippocrates Circle, a program offered in conjunction with the school districts and geared towards empowering seventh and eighth grade students from minority populations, to pursue careers as physicians.

A Dream Come True

Named for the Father of Medicine, the mission-driven initiative brings together physicians from the Southern California Permanente Medical Group with medical schools and local public schools with a shared focus. That focus is to instill a “Yes you can” mindset in kids from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds living in underserved communities. The Hippocrates Circle program strives to strengthen self-esteem and deepen educational opportunities for middle school students, with an end goal of increasing diversity within the physician population. Enrolled students have multiple opportunities during their fellowship to connect with practicing physicians within a medical milieu.

Spending Time In The Trenches

Students work with in-school mentors and physician guides who educate them about health field opportunities and the variety of disciplines included within the medical sphere. Broad-based, interactive opportunities are designed for students to experience firsthand the world of hospitals, medical schools and physician’s offices by spending time with male and female doctors, representative of multiple ethnicities within medical settings.

Students and physicians get to share their personal experiences and discuss potential obstacles and the challenges involved in becoming successful in a medical career. Kids get to tour a medical facility during a “Day in the Life of a Physician” event and visit a medical school campus, where they are provided with an opportunity to interact with medical students and admissions officers. Financial aid, scholarship advice and guidance are also given.

Changing The Face Of Medicine   

The program turns the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” into “What kind of doctor do I want to be when I grow up?” by educating students about discipline areas, from cardiology to pediatrics. The program is available in multiple locations throughout Southern California including San Diego, Bellflower, West Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Orange County, Baldwin Park, Fontana, Woodlands Hills, Panorama City and the South Bay. The program is free to parents and to schools.

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.