Photo by Michael Buckelew
COVINGTON -- If you visit Newton Medical Center this summer, you might see some younger faces helping out.
The hospital continued its juniors program this year to introduce high school students to the medical field by having them volunteer in various departments and attend classes at the hospital for three weeks during the summer.
About 20 rising 11th-grade and 12th-grade students already participated in a three-week program called Scrubs earlier this summer, and nearly 60 students are in the midst of their three-week Scrubs program this week. A group of rising ninth- and 10th-grade students also are participating in one-week programs called Explorers this summer.
"It used to be a six-week program," said Martha Taylor, director of Volunteer Services at NMC. "We broke it into different sessions because of the shortened summers and so many students are in a lot of different activities (over the summer)."
During their time at the hospital, some students get certified in first aid and CPR and they also get to shadow workers in about 20 different departments at NMC, such as nursing, physical therapy, birth care, cardiology, women's diagnostics and radiology, among others.
"It helps them to know if they are going into the right field," Taylor said. "For some, it increases their desire to go into the medical field."
Some students already know what fields they want to study, while others are hoping to learn more about a particular field.
"I want to be an orthopedic surgeon, so I thought (this program) would be a great experience to have," said Marcus Jackson, a rising 12th-grader at Eastside High School who participated in the program for the first time this summer. "I get to learn new things and get certified in first aid and CPR. I've always wanted to help people since I was little."
He is working in the radiology department this summer, mostly cleaning, assisting, bringing in patients for X-rays and watching doctors perform such procedures as a heart catherization.
Fellow Eastside classmate Mallyson Lewis-Francis said she would otherwise be working or sitting at home, so she, too, thought it was a good time to get some experience in the medical field.
"I want to be a pediatrician, and I thought it would help me," she said about the program. "I like kids and want to help them out when they are sick. ... Now, when I go to college, I will be more advanced (than most other students)."
This summer, she has worked in the women's center, filing papers, watching mammograms and taking in patients for screenings.
Taylor said the new students this year have been very professional and know how to follow the rules.
"The groups have been excellent," she said. "They have been great to have across the board. ... They all have behaved appropriately and seem to be here for the right reasons."
She encourages students to return each year and hopes eventually they will come to work at NMC or at least continue in the medical field.
Sam Johnson, a rising 12th-grader at Eastside High School, is participating in the summer program for the second time and hopes it, too, will help him when he attends college next year to get started in becoming an emergency room doctor.
"I've been in the hospital, so that is giving me experience to know what goes on in hospitals," said Johnson, who has worked in the physical therapy department for the past two years, assisting and watching as much as he can. "Colleges like it."
He also gets to talk to patients and, of course, handle some paperwork.
"There's a lot of it," he said.
Interested high school and college students can contact Volunteer Services at NMC for more information about volunteering at the hospital. Summer program applications usually become available in January, and interviews are conducted in May.
More information is available by calling the department at 770-788-6553, e-mailing Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting its website at www.ngh.org/ic-volunteerservices.asp.
The summer program is generally limited to about 60 students per session, which can fill up fast.
"That's about all we can accommodate," Taylor said. "It's always full. Over 90 applied this year, and I can't take them all."
Additionally, high school seniors who plan to attend college can apply for several $1,500 scholarships from Volunteer Services and the NMC Auxiliary.