Scecina students in the new Health Occupations class travel each day to Community Hospital East.
By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications
Some Scecina students considering a good job for the future are looking at the healthcare field up close.
They board a Scecina bus and within about 4 minutes arrive at a major hospital, Community Hospital East, where they work with health professionals.
They are the first students taking a new year-long class at Scecina, Health Occupations, which combines classroom instruction and real-life experience inside the health system. They spend nearly two class periods almost every day at the hospital. The students cannot touch patients, but they get experience in a real hospital setting, said teacher Sarah Smith.
Most of the students have a strong interest in a health profession. They will rotate among 11 different stations at the hospital throughout the year.
Senior Sam Traylor, who went to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, is considering physical therapy or sports medicine. He’s been helping at Community’s work-site clinic for employees.
“I’ve learned the everyday things. Sometimes it’s busy, sometimes it’s not. You kind of just have to learn on the fly sometimes,” he said. “I’ve been watching people get flu shots, drug screens, a blood draw, and I’ve been filing paperwork.”
Senior Abigail Demeree, who is considering nursing, sees a lot in the neurology department, where she runs labs and helps feed patients.
“Some patients need more help,” she said. “They’ve had strokes, head traumas, concussions. When the alarms go off, the nurses run quickly so (the patients) don’t fall. I feel like there’s always something going on.”
In the outpatient oncology department, senior Katie Circharo is comforting patients going through chemotherapy.
“They come in more often, and I’ve met their families, their spouse and grandchildren,” she said. “There’s a wide range of things I do. We sit in there when they’re feeling uneasy and talk with them. We don’t clean rooms, but I’ll put pillowcases on and set up for the next person.”
“The students technically are volunteers,” Mrs. Smith explained. They had to receive training, medical clearance, and a background check; be up to date on immunizations; and have no health issues that would compromise their health or patients’ health.
Tammy Hartley, Community’s volunteer coordinator, said this opportunity has allowed students to be a part of the team, instead of just observers. “This gives them a purpose when they are at the hospital,” she said. “They can begin to build those early relationships in a healthcare environment while learning the foundation of working in a professional environment. It also allows students to witness and learn compassionate care.”
Paige Dooley, Community’s Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nurse Executive for the East Region, recounts the months of planning for the class. She was involved in the process with Community East President Scott Teffeteller and Scecina President Joe Therber and John Hegarty, Scecina’s vice president of Community Initiatives.
Healthcare is a promising career choice. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment projections 2016-2026, healthcare support occupations and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations are projected to be among the fastest-growing occupations. The report cites factors such as the aging baby boom populations, longer life expectancies and growing rates of chronic conditions.
In the classroom, the Health Occupations students study anatomy and diseases. They wrote a paper about early medicine practiced by the Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Egyptians. They’re reading a book about disease, “The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus.” They also learn about legal issues in the health field. One recent example was the nurse in Utah mistreated by a police officer because she rightfully refused to draw blood from an unconscious patient unless the officer produced the required warrant.
“They’re learning quite a bit more than they actually thought they would,” said Mrs. Smith, who chairs the science department and also teaches chemistry. “I’m having a lot of fun teaching it.”
“What I really like is the students are learning valuable skills and responsibility,” said Ms. Dooley. “For Community East, we build further on our great reputation of being a good neighbor and strong investor on Indy’s Eastside. We are honored to partner with Scecina and support their mission for education and hopefully we will attract the best and the brightest to consider healthcare as a career choice! “