DeBakey High School for Health Professions (DHSHP)
Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions was recognized as an U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School in 1997-1998. This story is gleaned from its successful application to the Blue Ribbon Schools Program.
The Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions (DHSHP) was established in 1972 by the Houston Independent School District and Baylor College of Medicine to address a critical shortage of health care providers. The school was envisioned as an institution that would provide learning opportunities for inner-city youth, particularly minority students, and prepare them for careers in the health professions.
Today, DeBakey is a magnet school that attracts students from throughout the Houston school district. Each year, nearly nine hundred students apply for admission to only two hundred available places. DHSHP's students receive the best of both worlds: a strong academic education augmented by "real-world" exposure to the day-to-day activities of health care providers in the Texas Medical Center. DHSHP's close proximity to the Center contributes to the success of its greatest asset, its health science program.
One of the primary goals of DHSHP is to create an environment in which students of different cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds work together toward a common goal of careers in health. The students have a clear sense of their career goals and what is needed to achieve them, as well as a realistic expectation of these careers as a result of their work-based experiences. There are constant opportunities at DHSHP for students to relate what they are learning to "real-world" applications and integrate work-based and school-based learning in a thoughtful, substantive way.
There is an active service component fostered by these career-related experiences. For example, students at DHSHP have launched a "Teens for Transplants" campaign in which they present informational puppet shows in area schools to raise public awareness about the need for organ donors. DHSHP students provide thousands of hours of service each year to numerous Texas Medical Center institutions.
Every student at DHSHP has a junior preceptorship and a senior preceptorship with worksite rotations every other day. Careers that students explore include optometry, dentistry, veterinary medicine, plastic surgery, pediatrics, and anesthesiology. Students who are interested in careers other than health can do their preceptorships in finance offices, legal services, chaplain's offices, or other services affiliated with the Medical Center.
The preceptorship coordinator collaborates with worksite mentors to design the students' overall goals and their weekly objectives. Every Friday during their internships, students meet to "process" what has happened to them that week. Students keep a journal throughout their 12-week preceptorships, recording weekly goals, reactions, and experiences. Every three weeks, teachers complete progress reports, which document students' performance, and every six weeks students receive report cards and review their four-year plans.
The school sends out two parent newsletters at the end of each grading period. DeBakey's school calendar includes two Parent Involvement Days. On these days, teachers meet with parents to assess each student's Growth Improvement Plan. To make students' career plans seem more concrete and attainable, DHSHP and Baylor College of Medicine co-host an annual open house in the Texas Medical Center which features a tour of Baylor's medical school.
Students at DHSHP participate with a number of community-based service and professional organizations in service-learning projects and career-development activities. The Houston Hispanic Forum, National Aeronautics Space Administration, American Red Cross, B'nai Brith, M.D. Anderson Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, and many other organizations provide opportunities for formal and informal mentoring and career support for students. Alliances with organizations and professional schools in the Texas Medical Center form the basis of the support network for student achievement, providing access to their facilities for DHSHP's students and staff members in a wide variety of ways.
A DHSHP Community Advisory Committee, composed of medical professionals, parents, educators, and community leaders, serves as a community voice on behalf of the school and acts as an additional communication link between parents, the community, and the Houston school district. The Advisory Committee advises the principal on school issues and, when appropriate, takes action by exercising political influence and by seeking additional funding resources.
DeBakey has set as a goal to have 70% of all parents attend Parent Forums, the Baylor School of Medicine Open House, and the DeBakey Open House. To accomplish this goal, the school has outlined specific objectives and plans to evaluate success by reviewing attendance rosters and survey responses. The school sends out two parent newsletters at the end of each grading period and the Information Hotline is regularly updated. Informational flyers are sent home to parents every Friday. DHSHP has an open-door policy, which invites parents to visit the campus at any time. As a result, over 80% of DHSHP parents visit the school each year.