Community Outreach: Helping to Build Our Future Healthcare Workforce

By Felipe D. Perez, MD, FAAP; Todsaporn Rodbumrung, MD; Misty M. Montoya, MD, PhD; Travis Reece-Nguyen, MD, MPH; and Rita Agarwal, MD, FAAP
Division of Pediatric Anesthesia, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California

Dr. Perez
Dr. Perez

The AAMC estimates a shortage of up to 139,000 physicians by 20331. Part of the solution includes early community outreach with a healthcare pipeline targeting grades K-12 through science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum. Pediatric anesthesiologists use STEM daily in the care of the pediatric patient; making us perfectly suited to lead these efforts. In partnership with a national nonprofit organization, Project Lead The Way (PLTW), we integrate our medical expertise into the STEM curriculum through interactive and engaging learning experiences. PLTW high school graduates are nearly three times as likely to major in STEM versus non-PLTW graduates2.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, educational activities were adapted to an online curriculum using video conferencing platforms. PLTW teachers from three local high schools host online classrooms. We lead a total of eight sessions held over two days. Each session is one hour in duration, allowing us to teach lessons on airway anatomy, cardiac and respiratory monitoring, and crisis resource management in the operating room (OR) while encouraging student engagement and participation. Sessions end with a Q&A that allows networking and mentoring amongst students, teachers, and physicians.

Stanford Anesthesiology Department’s Division of Pediatric Anesthesia and the California Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA) in collaboration with state legislators have reached hundreds of high school students over the past three years through PLTW. Forty-seven survey responses were obtained from participating students with 74% from Willow Glen High School and 25% from Palo Alto High School. One hundred percent (100%) of participating high school students would recommend this workshop to a friend. Sixty-six percent rated the event as the "best ever" with the remaining indicating that they "enjoyed it." High school students broadened their knowledge on basics of a mechanical ventilator, cardiac and respiratory monitors during a surgical procedure, intubation techniques, and potential pathways to medicine and anesthesiology.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to adapt to virtual teaching sessions in order to continue community outreach events. Given this new format we have also given students the opportunity to provide feedback in order to better improve future sessions. Some examples of their responses have included: “I would like to learn more about the tasks and responsibilities an anesthesiologist has outside of surgery, and also what they do during an operation when they have already intubated a patient”; “How anesthesiologists take on action during a bad outcome in an operating room”; “Anesthetics and how they affect the body/how they work.”

As pediatric anesthesiologists we have a unique opportunity to promote health education within our local communities. Every pediatric anesthesiology fellowship program should engage their community, state legislators, and departments to preserve and advocate for the specialty. We would like to acknowledge all of our community partners including PLTW, state legislators, and our local high schools and a special thank you to CSA Foundation for helping to fund annual specialty training for the high school teachers.


  1. The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections From 2018 to 2033. AAMC. June 2020.
  2. Pike, Gary and Kirsten Robbins (2014). Using Propensity Scores to Evaluate Education Programs. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis.

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