A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
|Students go behind the scenes to learn about health care and hospitals.|
Some lucky Louisiana high school students took advantage of a unique summer learning program to do real work and get an in-depth look at one of today's fastest growing career fields.
AHEC of a Summer is a career exploration program for rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders. The summer program provides students throughout Louisiana an opportunity to volunteer in the complex world of health sciences. It is designed to expose students to career opportunities in the health care field and offers hands-on learning with positive and professional role models. Named after the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) that administrate the program, AHEC of a Summer is now available throughout Louisiana.
“This program has helped to pave my future,” said Dominique Richard, a senior at Zachary High School who completed AHEC of a Summer at Lane Regional Medical Center in Zachary. “I now know what I want to do and what I have to do to get there.”
During the five-week program, students go behind the scenes in hospitals and other clinical facilities by rotating through various hospital departments, shadowing health care professionals, and attending educational workshops and field trips. Programming is unique to each of the many sites throughout the state, tailored to specific student needs and available resources. Program supervisors, mentors and educators are all on hand to make sure students have the most meaningful summer experience possible.
The program is also designed to show the many different career options within the health care industry. It's not just doctor and nurse!
Jill Coon, program educator at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge and a high school science teacher, commented, “This was my first summer as an educator for AHEC. It is an excellent program for students interested in any aspect of the medical field, gaining hands-on experience in over 20 different hospital departments. Students see first-hand that not only do doctors and nurses help patients, but it takes many different professions and staff in the medical field to give patients the best care possible. Students see what they like and what they do not like and whether they want to pursue an education in the medical field."
As they rotate through various hospital departments, students complete general requirements:
• receive CPR instruction
• meet employees and learn their role in the department
• learn about each station or work area and equipmen
• discuss confidentiality requirements
• discuss job responsibilities, required skills and training
• learn about department workflow and time management
• observe patient care, test procedures and record keeping
• read articles in trade journals or industry newsletters
• learn which classes or prerequisites are important to specific jobs
• discuss postsecondary education and career training
• discuss Louisiana schools that offer programs for certain disciplines
• discuss continuing education and professional development requirements
• learn salary ranges for different fields
Mentors, or "subject matter experts," share their own career knowledge, health care issues and experiences that allow students to observe real-time activities within each department.
“A-HEC is an invaluable experience and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for those of us interested in medical careers,” said Alex Anderson, a senior at St Joseph's Academy in Baton Rouge. Anderson completed A-HEC of a Summer at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital.
The program concludes with an awards presentation recognizing students and their achievements.
To participate in A-HEC of a Summer, students must complete an application, have a minimum GPA, letters of recommendation and an interview. Students can check with their high school counselor for an application in late January or early February. After finishing the program, students earn ½-unit of high school credit.
“Our program is a valuable experience for high school students to gain experience through job shadowing, observation, and 'hands-on' activities in a multitude of healthcare fields,” said Nan Ewing, director of health careers programs, Central Louisiana AHEC, “All of our health career enticement programs are designed for students to gain insight into the fields of medicine, allied health, and/or nursing.”
Cindy Harlan is an educational consultant with Collegiate Admissions Consulting Services LLC, where she facilitates comprehensive admissions processes for high school and college students. She launched a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Collegiate Capstones Inc., which identifies and provides resources for underrepresented students to attain their higher education and career goals.
comments powered by Disqus