Prescription for Education: Gateway Health, Little Medical School Combine to Inject STEM Education for Local Students

June 21, 2018
News | Prescription for Education: Gateway Health, Little Medical School Combine to Inject STEM Education for Local Students
Pittsburgh – June 21, 2018

Somewhere in a classroom at a local school is a future doctor or nurse dreaming of a chance to one day care for patients in their community. To help ensure the next generation of healthcare professionals has an opportunity to learn more about what it takes to succeed, Gateway Health is collaborating with Little Medical School of Greater Pittsburgh.

Little Medical School of Greater Pittsburgh is an organization whose mission is to inspire tomorrow's healthcare providers today in the greater Pittsburgh region. Little Medical School brings medicine, science and the importance of health to children in a fun and engaging way. Through interactive demonstrations, crafts and games, kids learn how the human body works, how to use medical instruments and administer basic first aid.

“Our partnership with the Little Medical School represents a unique opportunity to educate children about not only how the human body works, but to help them grow and have a stronger understanding of the healthcare field,” said Patti Darnley, President and CEO of Gateway Health. “We are very excited to work with them and the ability to make a lasting impression on the future of the children who participate in this program.”

The partnership between Gateway and Little Medical School aims to be a mutually beneficial opportunity for both organizations. Gateway’s donation funds the cost of the classroom materials and teachers. Gateway sponsors these educational classes at low- income schools, which present a distinct opportunity for children to learn about science and medicine while inspiring children to consider rewarding careers in healthcare. The program is currently for children who are in kindergarten through fourth grade. It is designed to open their eyes to the many medical professions they can consider, including doctors, nurses, veterinary medicine and dentistry to name a few.

The most recent classes took place at the Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh. Pre-selected students in grades one through three gathered for a one-hour class that met weekly and supplemented their science program. Classes, which ran for six weeks, were formatted with different activities and games. Each class curriculum introduced the children to complex science concepts and medical terminology.

After each class, the children are provided with the day’s class agenda to take home to their parents. They are encouraged to have discussions about what they learned. At the end of the six week program, all of the students will play a game of bingo, which helps with verbalizing key concepts and confirms they are engaged and learning. Students will then graduate from the class at their ceremony where they take a Little Medical School Oath that is similar in ways to the Hippocratic Oath.

Diane Matway, the Director of Operations for the Little Medical School of Greater Pittsburgh, plays an important role as she develops relationships with both school administrators and partners like Gateway Health to provide and further the reach of their programming throughout the region.

“We recognize how valuable these programs are to the community,” said Matway. “It’s reaching some of the most vulnerable children and equipping them with the future knowledge and skills to grow their well-being and hopefully enter the medical field.”

According to Matway, one key that helps bring all of this together is through the guidance of Ebony Hughes. She makes the educational connection between the children and the success of the program.

Ebony Hughes is the educational instructor to these children and brings a tenured career of experience with her. Hughes spent 40 years as a registered nurse at Magee-Womens Hospital in addition to 20 years as health educator and is a respected leader in the community.

“By reaching these children early in life, it gives them many opportunities,” said Hughes. “These classes are intended to make learning fun and to stimulate children’s interest in math, science and exciting careers in related fields. For at-risk students with limited opportunity to experience such inspiring programs, this collaboration can promote self- esteem and a sense of purpose.”

Hughes is able to make a deep intellectual connection with each child. “My favorite moments are watching what the students become while role playing with various medical concepts and instruments,” said Ebony “It’s wonderful to see it first hand and have that kind of impact on a life.”

In addition to the flagship program Little Medical School, other curriculums that have been fully developed and taught in Pittsburgh include: Little Veterinarian School, Little Pediatrician School, Wilderness Medicine, Little Nursing School, Little Dental School, Sports Medicine and Med School 4 Teens.

About Gateway Health

Gateway Health is a nationally-ranked managed care organization that focuses on providing the best possible healthcare to a growing number of Medicaid and Medicare Advantage consumers. A not-for-profit organization, Gateway Health serves the needs of at risk and vulnerable citizens with not only healthcare coverage, but services such as disease management, health and wellness programs and preventive care. The organization provides Medicaid services in Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and Arkansas and Medicare coverage in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio and North Carolina. Our commitment to helping our members and their communities get and stay healthy is what keeps members, providers, communities and partners “Good with Gateway.” To learn more about Gateway Health, visit us online at

Copyright 2020 Gateway Health Plan