Program Highlight: Girls Taking Action

A novel program improving health, literacy and career proximity
Jan 15, 2024
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Health is our greatest resource; however it is unfairly and unequally distributed across populations along racial, socioeconomic, and gender lines. Initiatives that both provide early cardiovascular education to youth and encourage the pursuit of health careers can have lasting impact on the health and professional opportunities for youth.

In summer 2023, MHIF partnered with The Power of People Leadership Institute (POPLI) to pilot the first Cardiovascular Micro-credential for high school girls. The 5-week, experiential program aimed to demystify the careers in cardiology and health, teach the girls about social drivers of heart health and gain transferable skills required for a career in health sciences.

How did it work?

Over the summer, 20 girls participated in the program, with 13 girls earning the micro credential by attending all 6 weeks of programming. Surveys completed before and after the program showed remarkable, positive change in cardiovascular health literacy, self-efficacy in communicating heart risks, increased interest in health sciences as a career, and improved knowledge of the social drivers of health in Minnesota. This program was led by key members from MHIF's Penny Anderson Women's Cardiovascular Center and Health Equity teams.

10-15% of practicing cardiologists are women and 45% of STEM students are female; the numbers are much smaller for women of color.


Program Synopsis

Week 1: Political Drivers of Heart Health. Students learned about health policy at the State Capitol. They then had a lively debate on the House floor about breakfast foods and cardiovascular risk.

Week 2: Organizational Drivers of Heart Health. Students learned about how UnitedHealthcare tracks community information to understand trends on health and provide better services.

Week 3: Clinical Day. Students partnered with 3M to learn CPR and other first response information.

Week 4: Community Drivers of Heart Health. Students visited the Equity Innovation Center to learn how social movements facilitate or create barriers to heart health across many communities.

Week 5: Personal/Behavioral Drivers of Heart Health. Participants met with MHIF leaders, clinical interns, and physicians to learn about risk factors and career journeys.

Presentation Day: Students shared how they will apply what they learned from the micro-credential. Many students shared how they never knew how policy, community, and personal choices impacted the heart and want to build a career helping people to be healthy

I’ve decided to go to college for nursing and focus on behavioral health, as I learned mental health is important to the heart and vascular system. I want to help people heal inside and out.

JA, Grade 11, St. Paul, MN

Looking Ahead

Due to the tremendous success of this pilot, MHIF is currently working with POPLI and other state leaders to reproduce the program with intentions to offer it to more schools. The aim is to continue increasing the cardiovascular health literacy among youth while improving the high school to health careers pipeline among groups who are underrepresented in medicine. We thank our partner, The Power of People Leadership Institute, the organizations that volunteered each week (3M, UHC, Equity Innovation Center, MHIF, Rep Heather Edelson) and our sponsor, United Healthcare of MN, ND, and SD for their contributions.

Give the Gift of Hope
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The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF) strives to create a world without heart and vascular disease. To achieve this bold vision, we are dedicated to improving the cardiovascular health of individuals and communities through innovative research and education.

Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, we can continue this life-saving work. Please make a gift to support the area of greatest need.

Research Milestone: FDA approves device used as alternative to open-heart

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Triclip team

We are honored to celebrate the culmination of years of research that has resulted in new technologies for patients! In the few last weeks, we announced a similar research milestone with the FDA approval of the TriClip system for tricuspid regurgitation. We celebrated this important milestone with local media KSTP-TV, who spotlighted the importance of this new technology. We were proud to be a leading clinical site led by Global PI Dr. Paul Sorajja and the MHIF research team who contributed significant data to the pivotal trial.