Exposing Students Early To Health Care Career Options

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Washburn Rural High School senior Lauren Zeller already knows she wants to work in health care. She says she developed an interested in pediatric endocrinology because she herself is diabetic.

Lauren has gotten a taste volunteering at Stormont-Vail HealthCare. But at the hospital's first-ever Career Discovery Day, she learned there's more to medicine than meets the eye. She says some of the nine areas covered she had no idea existed.

Stormont's Chief Human Resources Officer Bernie Becker says there are about 400 job titles spread amongst the organization's 4000 employees. He says the health care industry needs to expose young people to that variety to get them looking at possible medical careers early on.

He says, while middle schoolers may not decide exactly what they want to do with their lives at that age, they ought to know what's out there and what school work might be expected. He says health care requires some specific training and education, which means a person can't necessarily wait until after they've earned their bachelors degree to decide they want to work in health care.

While some young people might be daunted by the prospect of the years of schooling doctors go through, the reality, Becker says, is that many positions require much less. He says some jobs in the clinical setting in health care with less than a year of additional schooling beyond high school.

The lesson of the variety of options in health care is one stuck with Lauren. She says beside pediatric endocrinology, she now has an interest in the emergency room and radiology and more. It's making her choices more difficult, she says, but also opening more horizons for her future.

Stormont is developing a partnership with Topeka's USD 501 to expose students to health career careers earlier. Also, Washburn Tech already partners with Highland Park High School on a certified nursing assistant program.

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