Mindy Blas knew for a long time that she wanted to work in a hospital, but a familiarity program sponsored by St. Anthony’s North Health campus has helped her zero in on just where where. “I knew …
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Mindy Blas knew for a long time that she wanted to work in a hospital, but a familiarity program sponsored by St. Anthony’s North Health campus has helped her zero in on just where where.
“I knew I wanted to be in a hospital, probably in thoracic surgery, but treating trauma seems really appealing to me now,” she said. “There’s the adrenaline involved in just being there and helping a patient. And you never know what is going to happen.”
Blas was one of a group of 20 Bollman Technical Education Center students scheduled to finish a seven week program at the hospital Nov. 6. Each week this fall, the students — all high school seniors — focused on a different department; the intensive care unit, surgery, obstetrics, the operating room, the emergency department, and the peri-surgery unit — which includes pre-surgery preparation and post-surgery recovery and therapy.
Blas is following the student certified nursing assistant track at Bollman and will be ready to go to work when she graduates next spring.
“When my teachers at Bollman told me about this program and how you can experience all the aspects of the hospital to see all of the paths you can take for working a hospital, I thought it was phenomenal,” the Mountain Range High School senior said. “You can see pathways that you didn’t know about. When you’re just starting decide what you want to do but you might not explore outside of that — until you find something that catches your interest even more.”
That’s the idea, according to Molly Minninger, the hospitals community relations and volunteer coordinator. They were looking for a program to get local kids curious about a career in healthcare to see there are hospital jobs other than nurse or doctor.
“A lot of kids don’t realize there are other jobs in a hospital beyond doctor and nurse,” Minnigner said. “We really want to help foster the growth of the kids in our community, so we want to take every opportunity we can to demonstrate the other fields and specialties they can go to.”
Each week on Tuesdays this fall, the students would come to the hospital and get prepared to visit a different department and experience a variety of scenarios.
For example students walking to the middle of a mock-mass casualty scenario when it was the logistics teams’ opportunity, Minninger said. Logistics handles everything from facilities management to heat and electricity, so the students got to sit in on planning discussions that helped guide the response.
“They’ve gotten to see a mock-code blue — which is a heart attack — and then they got to see how our emergency department handles a stroke,” she said.
Their visit to obstetrics involved a nurse wearing a training bladder designed to react and look like a woman giving birth. It’s something regularly used for staff training exercises, but not something the high school-aged student would get to experience.
“It wasn’t live birth, but it was doll or a dummy,” said Sister Pat Hayden, vice president of mission integration for St. Anthony North. “And it was in the obstetric unit, with patients in the other room. So she certainly wasn’t as vocal as she could have been, but it was very realistic.”
Hayden said the hospital experimented with a similar program in their old 88th Avenue location years ago and brought it back in 2017, offering a longer course for a local Boy Scouts troop.
“It was successful,” Hayden said. “We had kids who went through and decided that, say, radiology was where they really wanted to be. And other looked at it decided they didn’t want a career in medical care. That’s okay too.”
The program will be back early in 2019, when the hospital begins offering the program to Bollman juniors. But Hayden said she suspects that’s not where it’s going to end.
“I think we can be best served if we start offering it earlier — to sophomores, even,” Hayden said. “They’re just getting started and haven’t really set a path yet. This could be the kind of thing to really help guide them and help them decide where they want to go.”
The program doesn’t offer any class credit, just experience points, Minninger said. There is one hard requirement however — the students must be working on a medical track already.
“We hope this is going to be a bridge for these kids, between what they want to do and what is possible,” Minninger said.
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