By Tammy Lane
Fayette County Public Schools
About 200 high school seniors have dipped a toe in the water at Central Baptist Hospital, where many of them will intern as they explore their career interests and aptitudes.
About 200 students attended hospital orientation at Central Baptist Hospital, which covered such basics as OSHA rules, infection control and confidentiality. (Photo from FCPS)
The 90-minute orientation was part of Experience-Based Career Education (EBCE), an academic internship program in Fayette County Public Schools that maximizes classroom and community resources to provide realistic perspectives. Each high school has a learning coordinator to supervise its participants, and each student completes five internships during the school year.
Megan Lentz currently leans toward studying oncology, but she might discover she prefers teaching elementary children.
“I want to go to different sites and experience different places. It’s nice to have options and good to get all types of experiences. It’ll definitely help me with college and deciding what I really want to go into,” she said during a break.
Megan, who attends Paul Laurence Dunbar High, said EBCE also will enhance her people skills and communication skills, especially in dealing with a variety of personalities and situations.
Before requesting internship placements, the students do some legwork in the classroom such as career interest surveys and goal-setting exercises. Patti Palmer, the EBCE coordinator at Tates Creek High, also invites colleagues to share stories about their career choices and post-secondary paths. She sees how EBCE benefits her students.
“This prepares them for life and the workforce,” Palmer said. “If they take advantage of the opportunities, they have a much better idea of ‘what they want to be when they grow up.’”
Seniors completed paperwork and signed forms at the close of the 90-minute orientation. (Photo from FCPS))
Nick Runyon, who is beginning his second year as the district’s EBCE program manager, arranges placements for all the students. “They get to pick whatever they want, and I try to fit them into their area of interest,” he said. “Sometimes it becomes a jigsaw puzzle.”
Hospitals, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, physical therapy and the like – “It’s a really big interest for the kids,” he noted. Engineering, business and banking are popular, too. EBCE also has connections with the Lexington Philharmonic, a bronze foundry and graphic artists, among myriad other professions.
In addition, students whose families have ties to a local business can set up their own internships, if approved by Runyon, which enables him to expand the EBCE partner base.
Runyon stressed that EBCE should always have a positive outcome – either a student’s interest in a particular field is affirmed, or she finds it wasn’t quite what she expected and crosses it off her list.
The seniors, who signed up for EBCE as an elective, have two internships in the fall and three more in the spring. By the end of the school year, about half of the group will have completed a rotation in the medical field. That’s why Runyon required everyone to attend the recent group orientation.
Central Baptist can host as many as 15 interns per rotation in multiple areas such as general nursing, heart catheterization and radiology. EBCE also places students at UK HealthCare, Saint Joseph, the VA Medical Center, Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital and other facilities.
Bridget Starr, the student volunteer coordinator, demonstrated how to help a patient into a wheelchair and how the foot pads and brakes work. (Photo from FCPS)
The introductory session included basic information that applies across the board. For instance, it covered safety procedures and OSHA regulations, from fire emergencies and radiation exposure to bio-hazardous material and infection control. Bridget Starr, the hospital’s student volunteer coordinator, also emphasized the importance of HIPAA and patient privacy.
Starr encouraged the seniors to think long term and separate themselves from the pack so they will make a memorable impression on the staff, patients and others they encounter in EBCE.
“It allows you to build relationships and interact with people at the hospital. Observe your surroundings. When work is slow, ask questions of people who’ve been through it,” she told the group, adding, “Step up to help because that builds your credibility.”
John Walker, the hospital’s director of Volunteer Services, echoed the opening video montage, which featured doctors, lab technicians, cafeteria staff, parking attendants and others.
“You are a part of the patient experience in some way,” he told the students. “Everyone on the health-care team creates the experience, regardless of your role.”