Medical Careers Program Continues to Give Local Students Valuable Experience
- Through its Medical Careers Program at Crozer-Chester Medical Center and Taylor Hospital, Crozer-Keystone Health System has guided hundreds of dedicated high school seniors in Delaware County toward careers in healthcare.
- The Medical Careers Program pairs Crozer-Keystone Health System and the Delaware County Technical Schools (DCTS), allowing students to observe real-world healthcare settings while studying an intensive curriculum of anatomy, medical terminology, and more.
- The program is open to any high school in Delaware County. To enter the program, students must complete an extensive application.
Through its Medical Careers Program at Crozer-Chester Medical Center and Taylor Hospital, Crozer-Keystone Health System has guided hundreds of dedicated high school seniors in Delaware County toward careers in healthcare.
The Medical Careers Program pairs Crozer-Keystone Health System and the Delaware County Technical Schools (DCTS), allowing students to observe real-world healthcare settings while studying an intensive curriculum of anatomy, medical terminology, and more. To enter the program, students must complete an extensive application. Students must demonstrate experience in college prep courses, rank in the top third of their class, have excellent attendance and discipline records, have completed health-related science courses, and demonstrate community involvement.
The program is open to any high school senior in Delaware County. Some current participating schools are Ridley, Springfield, Garnet Valley, Strath Haven, Interboro, Academy Park, Chichester, Radnor, Haverford, and most recent additions Sun Valley and Penn Wood. Students can choose which hospital location to study at depending on their location.
The class curriculum is split into two parts. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the students spend classroom time learning about such topics as anatomy and physiology, disease process, medical legalities and ethics, safety and infection control, medical abbreviations and terms, first aid and CPR (including certification), patient care skills (such as taking temperature, pulse, respiration, blood pressure, height and weight), hand-washing, body mechanics and more. The students also learn bedside skills, including changing patient gowns, bed-making, feeding, transferring patients from a bed to a wheelchair, wheelchair safety, and the importance of the use of personal protective equipment.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, students spend time in a clinical setting, gaining hands-on experience and knowledge by shadowing a member of the hospital staff. Students rotate through all nursing units, as well as the Operating Room, Pharmacy, Radiology, Respiratory Therapy, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Intensive Care Unit, Short Procedure Unit, the Laboratory, Social Work and Emergency Department.
Sessions are offered morning and afternoon to complement student’s schedules. Classes are limited to 12 students to allow for a more intimate education. Students gain a well-rounded view of different medical fields, helping them to discover what they may be interested in. “Staff often visit classes to speak to students about their career. This is of great importance to students; it helps them to choose their career path in the medical field,” says Denise Kossuth, R.N., B.S.N., an employee of Delaware County Technical Schools who serves as the program’s instructor and moderator at Taylor Hospital.
As usual, a full 100 percent of Medical Careers Program students who graduated in 2011 are attending college this fall. Last year, graduates earned a total of over $1.1 million in scholarship money to the colleges they were planning to attend. This program has also been nationally recognized by the Life Science Career Alliance and won teaching awards from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Rosemary Barakat, R.N., B.S.N., who coordinates the program at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, says, “It’s so rewarding to see students who want to learn, take their experiences and do something with them. I try to stay in touch with some of the students, and the things they accomplish are amazing. Being a part of the steps they have taken to achieve their goals is a wonderful feeling.”
Haran Rajeswaran is a 2011 graduate of the Medical Careers Program. As a student at Strath Haven High School, in Nether Providence, Rajeswaran took an interest in volunteering in nursing homes. The combination of his volunteer work and an interest in science attracted him to a lecture about the Medical Careers Program at his school. He was accepted into the program, where he continued to grow as a student and as a future medical professional. “Shadowing the nurses and doctors gave me great insight into the medical field and helped me choose an interest. I loved the operating room and now I am in a six-year M.D. program at Youngstown State to get me into the OR,” Rajeswaran says.
The Medical Careers Program can open many doors for students and help prepare them for a demanding college workload. Rajeswaran says, “Professor Barakat helped the most with learning medical terminology and procedures. It really helped me when I continued on to college because I had a head start on what was going on in the class on the first day.”
Ashley Cowen, a 2010 graduate of the Medical Careers Program and current nursing student at Widener University, also expressed the program’s importance. “The Medical Careers Program is an appropriately challenging program, especially for a high school senior. The program allows students to decide if a career in the medical field is something they’d like to pursue,” says Cowen. “I liked the experience of getting to visit multiple areas of the hospital such as the OR and ER. Having the opportunity to follow anyone from the therapists to the doctors in any given unit of the hospital was a great experience,” Cowen explains. When asked what she would like to focus on in nursing, Cowen says, “I plan on working as an ICU nurse, particularly as a NICU nurse at some point.”
“The course, specifically the clinical rotations, makes students take control of their education. If you don't express interest, you won't learn anything. If you take the initiative, however, you'll learn a lot more than you probably expected,” says Gloria Larson, another 2010 graduate and current sophomore honors student at Creighton University. “This applies a lot to college. You have a lot more academic freedom in college than before, so it's up to you to steer yourself, otherwise you won't get anything out of the experience,” she says. When asked if she would recommend this program to other high school students, Larson says, “I would definitely recommend this program to other high school students interested in healthcare. It is a good experience for students considering the medical field, as well as those who know for certain that they want to work in healthcare.”
“Some students have become patient care technicians during their time in college after the program,” says Kossuth. “Currently, there are students of this program that are working as registered nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, and physician assistants. Two students from our first class are graduating from medical school this year.”
The Medical Careers Program started in September of 2003 at Taylor Hospital with 14 students. In 2004, Crozer-Chester Medical Center was added and currently the program is offering morning and afternoon classes at both hospitals to 47 students. This year, Taylor Hospital’s classes expanded clinical rotations to Springfield Hospital. Here, students can gain additional experience in areas that include cardiac rehab, physical therapy, Center for Balance and Dizziness, Center for Diabetes, and more. Next year, the Taylor Hospital program will celebrate its tenth year. Taylor is planning a reunion for students and staff to celebrate the program’s success.
For more information about the Medical Careers Program, contact Delaware County Technical Schools at (610) 583-7620 or visit their website at www.delcotech.org. Interested students can also contact their high school guidance department. You can also contact the Human Resources department at Crozer at (610) 447-6300, or Taylor at (610) 595-6068.