Teens learn about hospital careers through volunteering

Aug 2, 2022

Abrazo Instruments 400x300-minGOODYEAR – High school students from across the Valley spent the summer volunteering at Abrazo West Campus, learning about health careers, helping in the hospital and gaining a new perspective on future career goals.

Forty-two teens were selected as Student Ambassadors for the eight-week program, which included several workshops and educational sessions. Participants came from Goodyear, Phoenix, Litchfield Park, Avondale, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Buckeye, Anthem, Peoria, Glendale and Surprise.

Cameron Peters of Goodyear got interested in medicine at a STEM event, so she jumped at the opportunity. “I’ve always loved volunteering, it really makes you feel good. Everyone plays a very important role and it really shows you how important everyone is in the hospital setting. It’s been a really great opportunity and been amazing to be here.”

Highlighting the program were one-hour lunch and learn sessions and four-hour workshops that offered hands-on activities and speakers ranging from hospital clinical staff to surgeons and trauma physicians.

Topics included careers in the Intensive Care Unit, Respiratory Therapy, Radiology and Imaging careers, Emergency Management, careers in Emergency and Trauma Medicine, Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy, pathways to a career in surgery and more.

The experience helped Purvaj Vanga of Scottsdale see many sides of health care, something he is considering as a career. “When you’re in a medical field it’s like a calling. I’m able to experience the true joy of how it feels when you’ve made a difference in their life.”

The hands-on workshops were an added bonus. Groups of students learned to apply various medical skills including “stop the bleed” for trauma emergencies, wound care and treatment, and perhaps the most fun workshop was learning about the operating room.

Pretend Surgeons 400x300-minSurgical services staff spoke about the different types of jobs supporting an operating room. Each student then had the opportunity to learn about surgical instruments, suturing and “operating” with a mock surgical field as well as a daVinci surgical robot.

“The excitement and their eagerness to learn was one of the most rewarding things to see. The fact that this could actually impact their decision on what they want to do moving forward in their life is probably one of the biggest things about the program,” said Surgical Services Director Trisha Pollard, RN.

“This is a unique summer volunteer program for young people to contribute to their community as well as discover if a career in health care is in their future,” added Abrazo West Campus CEO Hans Driessnack. “I want to thank our hospital staff and departments for supporting this program.”

Kelli Jensen of Litchfield Park said her 15-year-old son Zach enjoyed the program.

“My son has had an amazing experience this summer in the Student Ambassador program. On top of his volunteer time, he was able to learn about medical career paths that he didn’t even know existed,” she said. “He comes home from his time at the hospital excitedly talking about all that he has learned, and his passion for health care has definitely grown since starting the program.”

Alexis Olayo, a summer volunteer who plans to attend Phoenix College, summed up the experience: “A once in a lifetime opportunity, everything about it was pretty cool.”

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