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Long IslandNassau

Program exposes teens to future careers in health care

This was going to be the summer that Philippe Rameau chilled out. After a grueling sophomore year at Uniondale High School, the 16-year-old was ready for a break.

Instead, he's studying the cardiovascular system and learning about data analysis while taking writing and public speaking courses.

Rameau is one of 22 students from Nassau County and Queens invited to take part in a pilot program that brings in teenagers for intensive, monthlong study sessions for the next five summers as they prepare for possible careers in health care.

"This is the greatest opportunity in the world to get to know about a career," Rameau said during a break from a CPR course Tuesday.

The pilot, held in a Lake Success training center, is being run by Hofstra University and the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center, which are partnering to open a medical school in Hempstead next year. The Nassau students - 12 from Uniondale and Hempstead - were recommended by science teachers, then chosen after filling out applications and being interviewed. Each participant is paired with a doctor who serves as a mentor.

The program, known as the Medical Scholars Pipeline, is free for the students. They will receive $500 after completing the four weeks because some of them took time off from summer jobs in order to participate.

"Hopefully, these young men and women will become our employees someday," said Kathleen Gallo, LIJ's chief learning officer.

The project was designed to expose high-achieving students in poorer neighborhoods to a range of careers, from nurse practitioner to surgeon. It also offers twice-weekly preparation for the math and reading portions of the SAT.

"It's awesome," said Jessica Martinez-Menendez, 16, of Hempstead, who said she is more determined than ever to be a pediatrician. Her mother cleans houses and her father is out of work on disability.

Britney Nathan, 16, of Uniondale, has long wanted to be an obstetrician and gynecologist, and said she feels "more confident" after this summer's immersion.

As for Rameau, he used to waver between engineering and medicine as careers. But a seminar with a nephrologist - a doctor specializing in the kidneys - convinced Rameau that his future involves caring for patients with diabetes.

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