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High School Students Given Unique Opportunity for Immersive Introduction to Healthcare Careers

St. Francis Medical Center NICU DSC_2178St. Francis Medical Center, a member of Prime Healthcare, kicked off its new Career Exploration Program (CEP) for local high school students this week. The program gives promising high school juniors and seniors from the community an immersive learning experience in a wide range of healthcare careers.

St. Francis CEO Clay Farell said, “St. Francis has an outstanding pool of talented and dedicated healthcare professionals. They represent fields traditionally associated with hospitals, as well as ones less familiar yet no less vital.  By pairing our team with young people who have an interest in the medical field and an eagerness to learn, we can open doors to new career paths for the next generation of doctors, nurses, technicians, and specialists who will care for our community.”

The program comprises two half-day sessions at the hospital during which students interact with St. Francis leaders and complete rotations through key clinical, ancillary, and support services departments. They include Emergency/Trauma, Surgery, Catheterization Lab, Radiology, Imaging, Laboratory, Respiratory, Food and Nutrition, Biomedical, Plant Operations, Maternity, and Neonatal Intensive Care.

St. Francis Chief Nursing Officer Marilou Salao believes the CEP will acquaint students with hospital careers they may never have considered, like food service, materials management, or engineering.

“How many kids think ‘biomedical technician’ when they think of a healthcare career?” asked Salao. “Interfacing directly with leaders and staff in various units will allow students to observe firsthand the scope of care and work that takes place here every day.  They can ask questions and learn about the span of roles that are essential to hospital operations and healthcare delivery.”

St. Francis hosted its first cohort yesterday in collaboration with Lynwood Unified School District (LUSD).  LUSD administrators and classroom instructors from Lynwood High School and Marco Antonio Firebaugh High School developed qualifying criteria and identified 20 students to participate in the CEP sessions. The students return for their final set of rotations on March 27.

“We are delighted with our collaboration with St. Francis Medical Center,” shared LUSD Superintendent Gudiel Crosthwaite.  “The selected students for this program not only exhibit a keen interest in healthcare, but also showcase outstanding work ethic, citizenship, and the potential to excel. This partnership serves as a commendation, acknowledging and rewarding their diligence in developing talents and capabilities. We believe this initiative will empower these students to pursue rewarding careers and become valuable contributors to our community.”

Following the initial launch with LUSD this year, St. Francis will look to expand the CEP to other school districts in its service area, such as Los Angeles and South Gate Unified.  In addition, the CEP will roll out an annual summer cohort specifically for high school-aged children of St. Francis employees.

“Our staff thoroughly enjoyed engaging the students,” said Farell.  “Leaders created at-the-bedside scenarios and real-life facility functions for students to experience.  At the end of the session, we had a lunch debrief, and students had the chance to share feedback with our team and one another.”

Students’ comments included:
“I enjoyed the Family Life Center since it relates to the career path I want to pursue. I enjoyed how I was able to see how babies are in the NICU and [their] difficulties.”

“I enjoyed the Facility/Plant Operations tour. I got to learn how MRI rooms are operated. I also found it interesting how elevators are powered… where energy is stored and controlled for the whole hospital.”

“I enjoyed the Food and Nutrition Services.  It was the most interactive and interesting to me. I never thought to see how it works and the big role it plays to the hospital and the different meals and forms.”

“I enjoyed the Women’s Department because it was very interesting to hear how everyone’s job connects.  I hope to one day work as an OB/GYN, so it was cool to see the different things I could do.”

““Perioperative Services – Rarely do you have the opportunity to see a surgery room and equipment.”

The session concluded with an overview of the hospital from a business perspective by Farell.  At the end of day one, he was pleased by the positive response from students and staff said, “I look forward to the two-way energy the Career Exploration Program will create and to inspiring the next wave of healthcare professionals who will lead St. Francis into the future.”