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Kitsap students get first-hand experience in the medical industry
By SERAINE PAGE
BREMERTON — Every day, students in high school hear about their options when it comes to the future. College, technical schools and heading straight into the job market are all viable possibilities.
But how easy is it to choose a career without really knowing what a day on the job is like?
On March 21, high school juniors and seniors convened at Harrison Medical Center campuses from Silverdale to Bremerton to participate in Student Job Shadow Day to learn more about medical field job opportunities.
The program allows students to get a better feel of different jobs in the medical field, like nutrition, hematology, nursing and similar professions, said Lalonda Hansen, Harrison Medical Center Human Resource Specialist.
"We do allow them on the floors so they can be in clinical situations from phlebotomy to microbiology," Hansen said.
For David Degnan, a senior at Crosspoint Academy, the opportunity was priceless.
When his grandmother went back to school six years ago to be a nurse, he decided he wanted to follow in her footsteps to be in the medical field.
"I've always been interested in the medical field since then," said Degnan, who wore a blue lab coat throughout his job shadow. "I think it's very smart to go into the medical field, especially with the expanding opportunities. I think it's really interesting. That's why I'm so appreciative of this."
Degnan toured the blood bank, hematology and microbiology areas of the hospital for part of the day, listening and watching lab techs at work. He peeked through microscopes at malaria slides; he watched techs exam human cells, and he asked questions of those he ran into throughout the day.
This summer, before heading off to George Fox University, Degnan plans to volunteer at the hospital for additional experience in the field, he said.
"I'm planning to get a biology degree, even if this isn't what I decide to do, there's still lots of opportunities out there," he said.
Other students attended the job shadow day more on a whim.
"It was kinda spur of the moment," North Kitsap High School junior Sarah Holt said. "I thought, 'oh, that sounds cool.'"
Holt was one of 10 students from the North Kitsap School District who attended. Also attending from North Kitsap High School was Rebecca Darrow, Madison Dalton, Mikaila Conklin, and Emily Calder.
Kingston High School sent Courtney Carlse, Alexander Pariser, Nanika Ray, Rebecca Stebbing, and Allison Hilse.
Once a year students from across the county have the opportunity to participate in the hospital's job shadowing program, Hansen said. Every year the popular program has between 40 and 50 participants from both public and private high schools.
While the hospital is where most of the students are hosted, some visit the hospital's urgent care centers as well for the job shadowing.
Students are required to fill out a questionnaire on their intentions for participating, and they must also have a reference letter recommending them for the experience, she said. School counselors then decide which students can attend the job shadow event.
The amount of job shadow applications from students in the North Kitsap School District doubled over last year, according to Denise Comeau, Kingston and North Kitsap career center coordinator.
Medical tech Virginia Angud fielded questions and showed students around her department throughout Friday morning. Angud frequently trains the newbies in her department, so working with students was enjoyable, she said.
"I love training people. I've trained almost everybody here, I think," she said. "Medical is a really interesting field. It's challenging, and you see new things every day."
For Angud and fellow staff members, that means clearly reading various slides, updating information and keeping up with technological advances in the medical field.
Bremerton High School Senior Nick Torres said taking a half day to tour the facility was well worth his time.
"It's pretty cool. It's a lot of information," he said. "I've done labs before, but I've never done a college-level lab yet. I feel like this is even more precise."
After the students were finished spending time with their department mentors, they offered evaluations and were given certificates for their job shadow participation.
As the event dwindled, one staff member admitted she wished job shadowing would have been available when she was a high school student.
"It would of been very beneficial," said Michelle Hopson, medical technologist. "I didn't know what I was going to major in until my junior year of college."