Working to promote the medical field amongst high school students is something Mid-Valley Community Clinic's Irma Clark has been doing since moving to the Yakima Valley in June 2003.
Clark, a physician's assistant, said upon her arrival at the local clinic she was approached to take part in Project HOPE, which helps introduce young people to the field of medicine.
"I had wonderful people who mentored and trained me," Clark said. "I hope to do the same."
So far Clark has worked with one student through Project HOPE, but that is just the tip of the iceberg as far as Clark is concerned. She said she is expecting to have more students to mentor over the summer and said she will begin mentoring three students from PRIDE High School in the next couple of weeks.
Clark said when working with a student she tries to give them a dose of what it's like to work at the clinic. She said with patient permission the students she is mentoring get a chance to come in with Clark during examinations and check-ups, observing how Clark interacts with her patients. She said the students also have a chance to ask questions during the experience.
"I'm assisting them in learning what we do at the clinic," Clark said.
Through Project HOPE Clark works with any given student for at least 15 hours, teaching them what she does every day, as well as providing them a basic understanding of how the medical world works.
Although Clark is new in her experience with Project HOPE, she is no stranger to serving as a teacher. Clark said she has experience through the University of Washington and Olympia College helping nurses make the transition from nurse to nurse practioner to physician's assistant.
Clark was recently recognized for her work with Project HOPE. The Mid-Valley Community Clinic was presented a plaque for Clark's participation in the project.