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Baxter International Creates New Health Care High School for Latinos in Chicago

They say it’s all about the pipeline. And Baxter International, Inc., one of the nation’s largest medical products manufacturers, is helping build it.

Their Science@Work education initiative has recently opened the Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy (IHSCA), a new Chicago high school dedicated to preparing students for healthcare careers. The school will focus on providing Latinos with education and preparation to pursue careers that meet the nation's healthcare needs.

Baxter is collaborating with several partners including Instituto del Progreso Latino, the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council and the Renaissance Schools Fund to launch the Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy (IHSCA) -- the city's first charter health science career academy -- to address the shortage of Latinos in the healthcare field and to support Chicago's efforts to provide high-quality education options. Located on the city's southwest side, the school welcomed its first class of ninth graders on September 7 and will serve 600 students when fully enrolled.

IHSCA is unique in that it fully integrates the health sciences into all core subjects to create the next generation of doctors, nurses, scientists, technicians and healthcare professionals; provides students with a rigorous college prep curriculum for success in competitive colleges and universities; and offers the opportunity for students to earn professional certification for high-wage entry-level positions in the healthcare field, such as pharmacy technicians and physician assistants.

"The Academy's rigorous health science program will help ensure that future generations are prepared to pursue rewarding careers that meet the nation's increasing healthcare needs," said Robert L. Parkinson, Jr., Baxter's chairman and chief executive officer. "As a science- and technology-based healthcare company, Baxter has a responsibility to ensure that current and future students have every opportunity to learn and be inspired by math and science."

Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing minority population in the United States, expected to triple by the year 2050 to constitute more than a quarter of the total U.S. population, according to projections from the Pew Research Center. However, Latinos are underrepresented in healthcare careers, with 3 percent of nurses, 3.4 percent of pharmacists, 3.8 percent of physicians and 5.3 percent of physician assistants of Latino descent, according to the 2000 U.S. Census and the Health Resources & Services Administration.

"So many of our children grow up hoping one day to become a doctor, or a nurse, or a veterinarian," said Juan Salgado, president and chief executive officer, Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy. "Through Baxter's support, we can connect our students' passion for math and science into well-paying careers in medicine, nursing, informatics and biotechnology."

With start-up funding and hands-on support provided by several partners including Baxter, the Renaissance Schools Fund and the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, the Instituto Health Science Career Academy will place a heavy emphasis on math and science and offer job shadowing and internship programs in an effort to prepare students for success.

In 2008, Baxter launched Science@Work: Expanding Minds with Real-World Science, a multi-year partnership with the Chicago Public Schools to support teacher training and student development in healthcare and biotechnology. Science@Work provided an initial investment to IHSCA to help open and sustain the school, and the company plans to supplement this investment with Baxter-sponsored lab tours, lectures and career days for IHSCA students.


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