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New health sciences pathways program for high school students

New health sciences pathways program for high school students (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Utah's teens have another option to get a jump start on their career while attending high school.

Gov. Gary Herbert officially launched a new life sciences pathways program Tuesday, where students can be making $64,000 not long after graduation.

Herbert has successfully launched similar private/public partnerships with Boeing and diesel mechanics in the past year. This time, the concept is being used with medical device companies looking for an educated and well trained workforce.

“Post high school education is an absolute necessity to find success economically.”

Herbert believe's education is the key to Utah's continued economic success. His goal is to have two thirds of Utah's high school graduates entering into post secondary education by 2020. While not everyone aims for a bachelors or master’s degree, there are other options which are growing exponentially here in Utah.

That's where new private and public partnerships come in with new "pathways programs."

Herbert spoke at a news conference from Edwards, a biomedical company in Draper.

"They are running out of labor and the challenge for a lot of our industries is, where will the next pipeline of labor come from?"

Salt Lake County's Granite School District is launching the new Medical Innovations Pathways, or MIP, with a $1 million grant.

High school seniors will take courses in the manufacturing of medical devices during their final semester, and finish with a semester at Salt Lake Community College after graduation.

Edward's Life Sciences in Draper, and a dozen other Utah startups, will hire seniors -- offering paid internships, high-paying jobs and help with college degrees for those who want to continue in the medical field.

Kiera Teerlink, senior at Skyline, ultimately wants to be a doctor, but likes the idea of working for a company that provides life-saving technologies while going to school.

"I want to help people and make a difference."

She says starting with this Pathways program would be a solid start.

Keenan Adcock received a heart valve from Edward's Health Sciences in Draper. He said he's "grateful the kids have these interest to go into biology and sciences."

"Without the product" he said, he would "have only a few more years to live."

Adcock's emergency surgery in April has given him a new lease on life. He's been hiking Mount Timpanogos as many as five times a day. The mountain closed Sept. 5 for renovations, but he was able to get 100 hikes to the top in before the summer was over. His new found energy, he said, is thanks to Utah’s innovative health science industry .

The governor sees the new Pathways program as a win for companies, patients and students.

"The advances we see in science and technology we see on exhibit today is making people's lives better. At the end of the day that is what it's all about."

MIP is only connected to Granite School District this year, but will expand to Davis and Canyons School Districts next year.

The companies involved in the private/public partnership include: Bard Access Systems, BD Medical, BioFire Diagnostics, Biomerics, CoNextions Medical, Edwards Lifesciences, EZ Lift Rescue Systems, Fresenius Medical Care, GE Healthcare, Merit Medical, Nelson Labs, Sorenson Genomics, Stryker Corporation and Varian Medical Systems. USA Funds provided a $1 million grant to the state to develop the MIP program.

The first semester of the program will take place in the high school facilities, while the second semester will implement curriculum in partnership with Salt Lake Community College (SLCC). Students will also participate in internships and job shadow experiences with life science companies involved in the program. Upon completion of the MIP program and passing pre-employment requirements, students will be certified to begin work with one of the life science partners in Utah, receiving a family-sustaining wage.

MIP is a replication of the Utah Aerospace Pathways program, which was established last year. Its success in the aerospace industry attracted interest from other industries seeking to start their own pathway programs.

Another new Pathways program for diesel mechanics is also already seeing success.

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