On Thursday, a normally unused hospital wing swarmed with 225 high school students for the hospital’s third-annual High School Healthcare Career Fair.
The teens practiced drilling screws into bones, intubating patients, addressing a “code blue,” suiting up for X-rays, and giving intensive care to “Sick Sam” and his cohort of patient simulator dummies as they rotated through 13 hands-on stations on the third floor of Northern Hospital of Surry County.
“The hands-on interactive approach offers more opportunities for students to explore possibilities,” said Tina Beasley, NHSC volunteer coordinator. “Students are expected to choose a career path a lot earlier,” Beasley added. “We expose them to careers here, allow them to get some hands-on experience, and the hospital gets to recruit future employees.”
Indeed, the students, all of whom have expressed interest in the medical field by enrolling in some sort of health science course, filled out a job application at their first station at the fair.
Starting with 70 students two years ago, the fair grew to 120 students last year and this year’s 225 students, coming from Mount Airy, North Surry, East Surry and Surry Central as well as Carroll County High in Hillsville, Virginia.
Some of those students from the first year are now employed by Northern, according to Beasley, including some who are continuing their training such as working on their CNA (certified nursing assistant) credentials.
A wing of the third floor whose rooms are awaiting renovation provided a location for the stations of the fair this year. Earlier incarnations have taken place in other areas.
With the fair’s exponential growth, Beasley said, “I have no idea where we’ll have it next year.”
After filling out their applications and dividing into small groups, the students made their way through the 13 stations including Infection Control, Surgical Services, Emergency, Respiratory Therapy, Skilled Nursing, Human Resources, Laboratory, Intensive Care, Imaging Services, Cardiac Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy. As the students were moving from station to station, Angie Cave, a registered nurse who teaches at North Surry, said to Beasley, “I can’t believe you do all this for these kids.”
Respiratory therapy was a popular stop where Kirby Anthony, RRT, and Jenny Childress, RRT, gave the students a crash course in the subject and then assisted them in intubating their patient dummies.
Dr. Mark Appler gave a talk about gastroenterology procedures and allowed the students an opportunity to assist with a simulated colonoscopy as he demonstrated what he looked for and how much time he spent looking for it.
Beverly Davis, in her Laboratory presentation, wanted the students to know the lab does exist.
“We’re behind the scenes,” she said, “and they may not know what lab people do.” Davis said she stumbled into the lab 40 years ago and has always found the work very interesting.
Teresa Thomas, RN, and Amanda Allen, RN, took their groups of students into their simulated Intensive Care Unit and walked the students through an assessment of “Sick Sam” who was in the midst of a multi-system organ failure. The assessment, which would happen at least every four hours in the ICU, was detailed as the nurses went through all of Sam’s bodily systems that were in distress, which was, unfortunately for Sick Sam, most of them.
“It really makes everything come alive,” Crystal Folger-Hawks, career coach for Surry County Schools, said of the hands-on learning. It gives the students an opportunity before completing a college degree to explore whether they have a passion to follow or not.
“The hospital is so gracious to take their resources and employees and do this for the students,” said Folger-Hawks. “It can have a huge impact on these student’s career choices.”
“The investment of the hospital of today is an investment of a lifetime for the students.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.