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Health Careers Exploration Program

The Health Careers Exploration Program (HCEP) is offered through collaboration with Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State College of Medicine and local high schools (Central Dauphin High School, Central Dauphin East High School, Hershey High School and Lower Dauphin High School).

The program runs during the second half of the academic year and is designed for rising seniors who are interested in health care careers. Students come to the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center daily to participate in shadowing, observation, networking, and interactive seminars. The first quarter involves clinic rotations and seminars, and the second quarter offers a nine-week observation experience in a particular area of interest. Partner high schools offer academic credit for this experience.

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine employees are an integral part of the selected students’ learning experience by acting as supervisors and learning facilitators throughout the experience. The goals include: enrich the students’ current efforts in career exploration, to enhance critical thinking skills, and to provide important information for educational options and career paths in medicine.

Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine are committed to increasing diversity in medicine. Students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine are encouraged to apply for this program. Read more from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

This program is temporarily on hold. Please check back for updates.


The Health Careers Exploration Program is designed to:

  • Enable students to develop career readiness beyond high school
  • Provide exposure to health science-related career options
  • Enable students to increase their level of comfort in a health care environment
  • Provide opportunities to shadow health care professionals in their work setting
  • Explore and strengthen skills and resources for health career development
  • Create a pipeline of interested students into the medical field


Students must be incoming high school seniors and attend one of the following high schools:

  • Central Dauphin
  • Central Dauphin East
  • Hershey
  • Lower Dauphin

Additional partnerships are being explored with the following high schools:

  • Harrisburg – John Harris
  • Harrisburg – Sci Tech
  • Steelton-Highspire
  • Susquehanna Township

Students/staff from these schools should contact Sonnya Nieves directly (, 717-531-7671) to discuss possible participation.

Benefits to Partners

The Health Careers Exploration Program allows high school students the opportunity to interact with health care professionals in a real-work environment and to explore various health care professions. Students derive the following benefits from the program:

  • Learn about job possibilities within the health care field
  • Discuss real-life issues with health care professionals
  • Experience the workplace first-hand
  • Formulate future goals for a career in health care
  • Receive mentorship that assists them in making better decisions about their futures
  • Develop networking skills within the health care system
  • Develop relationships with adults in a chosen career area
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Penn State Health Children's Hospital
Penn State Cancer Institute
Penn State