Not only are medical occupations in high demand, but many find it to be very rewarding. To encourage more interest in healthcare careers, Kerman High School provides a one-of-a-kind, hands-on healthcare experience for students and Community Regional Medical Center is helping to support and grow the program.
Gerry Villa is a registered nurse and the ROP instructor for the Medical Careers Program at Kerman High. She said, “Medical programs are hard to get up and going. Equipment costs are high and it’s hard to get support and get speakers out into a rural area. And through the support of community, they’ve not only stepped up and supported my program with some amazing donations of equipment, but they’ve also sent me some amazing guest speakers that continue to be a daily partnership with them.”
Gerry began the program last year and says the partnership with Community Regional really helped student interest, as enrollment almost tripled in just it’s second year.
“I’m already having students who are in my introductory classes talking about, ‘Miss Villa, how do we go about getting into your ROP class or are you going to have room for us?’ and it just speaks to how big healthcare is and what an interest there is for students,” said Gerry.
Eber Garcia is a senior at Kerman High and is in the program. He would be the first in his family to pursue a career in medicine.
Eber stated, “So, I came into this class knowing I already wanted to be in the medical field. I just didn’t know which profession I wanted to do, so after coming to this class and learning about the different jobs in the medical field, I really lean towards becoming a primary care doctor, because I know, especially here in California we’re in a shortage.”
The medical careers program gives students a chance to work with equipment and provides hands-on experience.
“So we did a field trip to the hospital and we learned just about all the different positions at the hospital and how if you really want to be in the hospital there are different entry level jobs you can get. So, I think learning about those entry level jobs was really helpful,” said Eber.
And the program also offers students guidance to pursue a field outside of a hospital setting.
John Center is also a student in the medical careers program. He said, “I took a different route than everybody else, so I plan on becoming a deep sea or navy deep sea dive medical technician to try and help the divers in the United States Navy. Also I want to be a diver, since I’m interested in mechanics, it’s a good way to be mechanically inclined as well as medically. I was actually in a dental office working with MDs and it was actually really cool applying my knowledge, soft skills, which I thought, no those aren’t going to be useful, but they actually come in so handy when you’re talking to patients.”
Robyn Gonzales is the vice president of Ambulatory & Post Acute Services for Community Regional Medical Center. She said, “People aren’t aware of the variety of jobs that we have at Community Medical Centers and in the healthcare field in general.”
And so, the incentive for Community Regional to help foster interest was an easy one.
“We have these Community benefit dollars and I thought, what a great opportunity for both of us because we have so many positions that go unfilled. I think, you know, we need to bring them here, we need to show them what we have, what the career opportunities are. There’s a whole variety of positions that require a whole variety of skill sets and education levels,” continued Robyn.
The goal of programs like these is to keep students engaged and provide as much experience as possible to get them ready for the real world.
Robyn said, “So they’re just so wanting to learn and want to better themselves and get education. Eventually with the goal of taking care of themselves and their families, right. So that’s what it’s all about for us and that’s why we’re doing it and why it’s so important.”
Gerry ended, “i’m trying to provide things in this program that not every other program is going to provide. I want to continue to spark the kids’ interests in the medical profession. And so, while not everything I teach they’ll be ready to use when they walk out the door, it will give them that drive or that incentive to learn more about it and pursue those careers they’re dying to do.”