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Student volunteers get look at medical field

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

COVINGTON -- Completing paperwork, filing medical charts and being around sick people all day -- that might not sound fun to some people, but for about 60 Newton County high school students, it's something they've been looking forward to all year.

The students are volunteering for a few weeks this summer at Newton Medical Center as part of the junior volunteer program.

"I didn't know it was going to be fun," said Ashley Larrimore, a rising senior at Eastside High School, who is working in the Women's Diagnostic Center at NMC this week.

She and her fellow volunteer in the center, Chidimma Egbulem, a rising senior at Newton High School, have been busy filling out paper work, looking at mammogram results and getting used to some of the equipment in the center.

"I just want to find out more about the medical field," said Egbulem, who was a volunteer last year in the Birth Care Center at NMC.

She hopes to major in biochemistry in college and eventually become an OB/GYN. Larrimore, whose mother Dr. Cathy Larrimore has an OB/GYN practice in Covington, doesn't yet know what medical field she is interested in studying, but she is leaning toward the study of the brain in something like neurology.

For now, the two students are interested in learning all that they can at the hospital and in Advanced Placement classes at their high schools.

"I genuinely love helping the community, and I have an interest in being in the medical field," Larrimore said.

Tyler Moon, a rising senior at Eastside High School who is working in the Fitness Forum at NMC this week, said he heard from fellow classmates that volunteering at the hospital was a fun experience and thought he would see what he could learn since he is interested in studying in the medical field.

"I normally just sit at home (during the summer), so it's a welcome change," he said.

So far, he's observed fitness classes, filed paperwork and took blood pressure of patients.

Kaley Johnson, who graduated from Alcovy High School this year and will major in nursing at North Georgia College and State University in the fall, has enjoyed talking with patients, feeding them and helping them feel comfortable.

"This is a chance for me to help people," she said. "You have to be patient and have to listen to what they want."

Martha Taylor, director of Volunteer Services at NMC, said more than 100 students applied to be in this summer's program, which has grown and evolved over the years.

"We've got a great group this year," she said. "We try to get in as many students as we can."

Taylor said that for several years the program simply allowed students to generally help around the hospital, but now they get more of an educational session.

Students are split into three groups and volunteer at the hospital between one and three weeks over the summer. They get CPR and first aid certification, learn medical terminology and nutrition, study the respiratory and skeletal systems, learn interviewing skills and how to dress for an interview and participate in activities like checking vital signs, injections, changing linens and feeding other students acting as patients.

"It gives them a real insight into what they think their chosen profession might be like," Taylor said. "Some come in with a preconceived ideas of what it will be like, and they can experience it while they are here."

Older students also are working in about 25 hospital departments this summer, learning about working with patients, filing and equipment.

"They're all over the hospital," Taylor said. "It's great that we have the full cooperation of all of the managers."

The hospital and NMC Auxiliary Services also presented scholarships to seven Newton County seniors this year.