Helping high school students focus on future careers - February 24, 2015

Courtesy of NWI Times

February 24, 2015 12:00 am • Lu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent

GARY | Internships help high school students explore post-secondary education options and future career choices.

On Monday, four female Merrillville High School seniors completed a 10-week internship rotation at Methodist Hospitals by telling the “untold stories” of their experiences in clinical and non-clinical areas of the health care field. A Power Point presentation operated by Sharon Row, internship coordinator for Merrillville Community Schools, served as the backdrop for the young women’s commentaries.

This is the first time an all-female team of interns has participated in the internship rotation established seven years ago between Methodist Hospitals and the Merrillville schools, said LaTanya Woodson, Methodist community outreach manager, who supervised the students and arranged the rotation cycle at the three hospital campuses.

The students rotated through such departments as neuroscience, occupational therapy, food services, the emergency room, the breast cancer center, the recovery room, environmental services and the lab.

Although they all planned careers in health care, what they learned helped bring those careers into sharper focus, the young women said.

“I came into the program wanting to be a radiologist or an anesthesiologist,” said Chloe Nelson, 18, who will attend Indiana University in Bloomington, majoring in biology. “I found out I don’t want to be in a dark room all day by myself (as a radiologist). Now I know I want to be an anesthesiologist.”

Jenna Jurczyk, 17, entered the internship program with the goal of becoming an emergency room nurse.

“I found that (trauma nursing) wasn’t really for me. I found a home in occupational therapy, helping stroke patients, helping people get where they need to be,” said Jurczyk, who will attend Indiana University Northwest in the fall.

“I wanted to be a plastic surgeon or OB/GYN,” Kayla Grant, 17, told the audience of Methodist employees, school administrators and parents. “Now I know I want to be a neonatologist and work with the babies.” Grant will attend the University of Southern California after high school graduation.

Anna Feliciano, 18, originally planned to become a pharmacist.

“If not for this internship, I would not have discovered my passion is in orthopedic surgery,” said Feliciano, who will enroll at Southern Illinois University majoring in physiology.

Denise Dillard, chief consultant for governmental and external affairs at Methodist Hospitals, said the Merrillville school system had the vision to begin internship programs and applauded the administration as well as parents.

“We place more and more emphasis on career education. The more informed they are, the better decisions they will make,” said Tony Lux, interim superintendent of the Merrillville Community Schools.

“College is so expensive today,” Lux said. “Parents would like to know where the career opportunities are, that their children have the degrees in an area or have gone to a program where there are career opportunities.”