UI seeks out next batch of bright minds through STEM engagement

A researcher at the University of Iowa preps a microscope (Photo courtesy of UIHC).

The increasing demand for health care and the growing shortage of providers is taxing hospitals and tasking academic institutions with finding the next generation of doctors, nurses, and scientists.

The University of Iowa has long been a leader in medicine, so not surprisingly, the college is ramping up its engagement with primary and secondary school students in critical learning fields.

STEM -- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math -- is one of the fastest growing industries from a workforce perspective.

Still, the rapid expansion requires people to fill positions and instructors to educate for future occupations.

"We know right now that the rate of medical knowledge is expected to double every 72 days in 2020," said Emily Strattan, the STEM Program coordinator for University of Iowa Health Care. "By the time these students are in college, it could be even faster."

With need and knowledge expanding, engagement naturally follows.

The University of Iowa's STEM education program began in 2008, with roughly 3,000 students across the state participating to some capacity.

"In our fiscal year of 2017, we had over 37,000 students from 76 different counties in Iowa," said Strattan.

From a growth standpoint, Strattan said the college may have plateaued. However, the strategy going forward will be to engage those who may need the exposure to STEM the most.

"That's underserved, underrepresented students," said Strattan. "It includes women, students of diverse ethnic background, students of low socioeconomic status, rural students."

By no coincidence, the university's "most successful program" is Girls Go STEM, which engages roughly 500 female middle school students annually.

Click here to learn more about the program and how you can reach out about a potential partnership.

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