Students from high schools that surround USC Verdugo Hills Hospital had the chance to participate in the fifth annual Health Care Day of Discovery, where they had an up-close look at health care careers.
“I think kids are generally not always exposed to all the options out there, careerwise. Unless you’ve grown up as the child of a doctor or nurse or someone who works in health care, you might not really know what it involves,” one of the event organizers, Deborah Weirick, told the News-Press. “And so, I just think exposure is always a great thing for young people to different careers.”
Weirick, who is the director of community and donor relations for USC-VHH, emphasized that currently there is a shortage of health care workers and events like this could increase those numbers.
“So the more we can do to get the word out about the variety of jobs and what it entails, I think it’s really important,” said Weirick.
The high schools that participated included:
• AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School
• Crescenta Valley High School
• Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy
• La Cañada High School
• Armenian Mesrobian School
• San Fernando Senior High School
• St. Francis High School
Weirick said that the hospital and team left it up to the high schools to decide which students would benefit from the event. She said the goal is to show students that there are more jobs in health care than being a doctor or nurse, like a radiology technician or physical therapist to name a few.
About 80 students attended the event.
“We want all students to feel like they could be a contributor to the health care industry,” said Weirick.
Students were taken through a whole day of learning starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m. on March 24. Weirick said that the career categories and panels included:
• Physical, occupational, cardiac and speech therapy
• Physician and physician assistant
• Ancillary services
• Hospital administration
Jacob Ralph, who attends St. Francis High School, said he loved the event.
“I don’t have a lot of knowledge in the medical field to be perfectly honest. And one thing I didn’t know was the different branches in different departments. Everyone thinks the hospital is one big entity but in reality there are so many things under the surface and that is just really amazing to see,” said Ralph.
He is looking to possibly go into oncology or cancer research as a career.
“I can’t overstate how little knowledge I have of a hospital and yet, I’ve come in and I’ve been totally impressed. I’ve learned a bunch. But you have to make the most out of it,” said Ralph.
He shared that his aunt is a physical therapist and that is how he got into the idea of health care being a possible career.
Connor McLurkin, another St. Francis student, came into the event feeling nervous but slowly opened up as he asked questions.
“My mother was an ER physician, so the medical [field] … was nothing foreign to me. But I came here wanting to ask questions, especially nurses and physicians,” said McLurkin.
He said that the experience put his nerves at ease and could help future students too.
“I feel like every single student is always doubtful of going into medicine because it’s so overwhelming. But if you can ask people who have been doing it every day and what life is like, I think it’s extremely helpful in making a decision,” said McLurkin.
He would like to eventually study biomedical engineering or neurology.
At the end of the event, students participated in hands-on activities such as performing CPR, checking blood pressure, doing blood flow restriction therapy, sterile IV prep, vascular ultrasound and learning about brain health.
And finally, they went through a job fair and department tours.
Weirick explained her main goal: “I think it’s to show students that there’s more than one path forward, right? Like, we’ve had physicians and our physicians panel that went to community college first. Or they took a year off or they took an untraditional path. It’s to show the different careers, but I think it’s also to show that there’s different pathways, and there’s more than one way to get to your goal.”
Students were able to ask questions during panels and pick up job descriptions.
First published in the April 1 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.