By Wendy Sarubbi | April 1, 2013 11:00 am

High school, undergraduate and graduate students from across Florida will participate in workshops and innovative demonstrations April 6 during the 2013 Student Symposium sponsored annually around the state by the Florida Alliance for Health Professions Diversity. The event, at the UCF College of Medicine in Orlando’s Medical City, will feature a keynote address from the Honorable Louis Sullivan, M.D., former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush.  Under his leadership, The Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions was organized in January 2005, to ensure diversity in the healthcare workforce. The Florida Alliance is one of five state alliances across the nation dedicated that those efforts.

The goal of the event, “Your Future in Healthcare: The Time is Now,” is to help students explore the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to be successful in the 21st century health professions workforce. The conference will focus on evolving health care challenges in America, health information technology and the role of interprofessional teams in caring for patients.

Breakout sessions will be specifically geared for high school, undergraduate, graduate and professional school (such as medical, dental and nursing) students. Topics will include how health care reform is changing the current model of patient care, how health technology can help patients play a bigger role in their own wellness, and efforts that can cultivate a more diverse healthcare workforce. Participants will also get training at the College of Medicine’s Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library, which is 98 percent digital and is a national leader in the use of interactive learning tools.

Organizers hope the location of the conference, in Orlando’s Medical City at Lake Nona, will encourage students to look to the future role of health care in Florida’s economy. Speakers will include leaders from Lake Nona, a life sciences cluster that is expected to create 30,000 jobs and $7.6 billion in annual economic activity by 2017.  “As our nation becomes more diverse at all levels – national, state and local – we must train new types of health care providers and scientists,” said Dr. Lisa Barkley assistant dean of diversity and inclusion at the College of Medicine, who is leading this year’s event. “We need people focused on health who better understand, connect and represent the communities they serve.”

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