Led by Dr. Neelum Aggarwal, MD, Rush University, Sophia Diaz-Aguilar (MS2) and Saira Somnay (Pre-Med) initiated a pilot program for STEMM students at St. Laurence High School in Chicago to increase education/awareness of sex/gender differences in biology and medicine.
Utilizing the Sex and Gender Specific Health Learning Modules, academic faculty, a second-year medical student, and a pre-medical summer intern partnered with the Center for Health Care Innovation to develop and implement a Sex and Gender Based Education (SGBE) program to introduce under-represented minorities and high school students career opportunities in STEMM topics.
The five-week summer program was delivered through Zoom and consisted of three, 1-hour meetings per week. Activities included group sessions with faculty focusing on sex differences in Cerebrovascular, Cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s Disease, and Pain, with an emphasis on the impact of COVID infection and racial/ethnic considerations. Participants also studied online case-based Sex and Gender Specific Health Learning Modules and experienced group mentoring with career mentors in STEMM.
Seven students (4 females, 3 males, average age 16, average grade 11th) participated in the program. Two students completed all five online modules. No significant differences in course preference were noted between female and male students.
Generally, all students strongly disagreed/disagreed that their institution taught sex and gender differences, and 6/7 strongly agreed/agreed and 1 student neither agreed nor disagreed that “knowing sex/gender differences would improve one’s ability to manage patients.”
This study showed that sex/gender considerations as they relate to biology and medicine, in combination with a STEMM high school education program, was well received and that incorporating this programming with online curricula is feasible.
An abstract of the SGBE program was submitted to the 2021 American Academy of Neurology Conference, and the team was invited to submit a poster at the conference.
The pilot program was deemed a success, and there are plans to include a SGBE program at St. Laurence High School as a regular part of the STEMM curriculum. There are also plans to implement the pilot program at other schools.
Poster presented at the 2021 American Academy of Neurology Conference.
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