South Florida Hospital News
Thursday August 6, 2020
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June 2016 - Volume 12 - Issue 12
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Larkin Community Hospital Plans to Open Charter Middle School as Part of Medical Campus

Retaining talent has become a top priority for many South Florida healthcare organizations. This is especially an issue among medical school graduates, notes Jack Michel, M.D., president and chairman of the board at Larkin Community Hospital in South Miami. One of the reasons Dr. Michel believes graduates are leaving the area is because a majority are not originally from South Florida.

“As we began to explore ways to keep more graduates from leaving the area, we felt it was important that they have roots here,” he says.
 
As a result, Larkin Community Hospital decided last fall to explore the viability of starting a new charter school that would cater to middle school students. The school would prepare students for degrees in health sciences and offer mentorships in the field. The hope is to turn homegrown talent into the next generation of healthcare professionals to serve the community’s healthcare needs.
 
In March, the Application Review Committee (ARC) of the Miami Dade County Public Schools voted to approve the Larkin Middle School for the Health Sciences. The ARC will now make a recommendation of approval of the charter school application to the Superintendent of Schools. The new middle school (grades 6th through 8th) will open August 2017 and be tuition-free for Miami-Dade County residents.
 
“The Miami-Dade public school system has an excellent high school program that emphasizes health and offers a health careers magnet program,” says Dr. Michel. “But it’s under-enrolled. We thought if we could build this middle school, it could serve as a feeder into the magnet program. It would help with the enrollment issue and we will be able to work with the school system.”
 
Another reason for building the charter school is that the percentages of minorities in healthcare are low. As of 2012, 62 percent of Miami-Dade County Public School students were of Hispanic origin and 25 percent were black. Yet, Dr. Michel points out that these two minorities are underrepresented in health careers. In fact, fewer than 18 percent of the practicing physicians in Florida represent these two minority groups.
 
“Both of these student minority populations can benefit from an early mentoring program that hopefully will spark an interest in healthcare careers,” says Dr. Michel. “We think the mentorship program with our medical residents as well as pharmacy and nursing students can make a huge difference.”
 
Dr. Michel adds that they plan to work with Miami-Dade College as well so high school graduates can earn their bachelor’s in a healthcare field. “A student would be able to do all of this in a 30-mile radius which is rather unique. There will be nothing like this program in the country as far as a healthcare provider with this level of involvement and participation. It will also be the first school in the nation to provide middle school students with a curriculum, mentoring and experiential learning in the health sciences.”
 
The school will be built at the hospital’s Health Sciences Campus, a 48-acre Campus located in Naranja Lakes. The campus will cover 55,000 square feet and be equipped with 30 classrooms, science labs, art room, music room, media center and a cafeteria/auditorium. The existing Larkin School of Nursing, College of Biomedical Sciences, and College of Health Sciences will also relocate to the campus in the future. Campus amenities will include college student housing, a library/media center, 100,000 square feet of medical/professional office space, and related support buildings.
 
First year enrollment is expected to be up to 330 students with a maximum enrollment of up to 792 students, according to Dr. Michel.
 
“We want to work closely with local hospitals,” he says. “If you are a healthcare employee in the area who has middle age children, we encourage you to consider our charter middle school.”

For more information or to be contacted when the school begins accepting applications, visit http://ularkin.org/charterschool/request-enrollment-information.

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