This September, Questar III launched a new New Visions programs for high school seniors interested in pursuing a career in medical-related fields. The program is based at Samaritan Hospital in Troy and includes college-level course work at Russell Sage College.
New Visions: Medical allows students to experience a variety of professions in several medical areas and specialty areas with hands-on experience in the field. Students participate in rotations at Samaritan and St. Mary’s Hospital as well as other local care facilities. Questar III also partners with Hudson Valley Community College to offer lab experiences in their state-of-the-art medical lab facilities.
Throughout the year students may attend medical seminars or collaborate with students in other New Visions programs on various projects.
Perhaps the biggest part of the program is the time students spend on rotation – gaining valuable first-hand experience working with patients. Teacher Tammie Borland says the partnership and cooperation with the staff at the various rotation sites has been incredible and is key to the success of the program.
“Everyone’s been so great. Judy [Quinn] has been such an advocate for us and has been invaluable in securing rotations for students. But really everyone that we work with on a daily basis has been so supportive of the program from day one. We wouldn’t be successful without their partnerships.”
Brittney DiScanio, manager of Surgical Services at St. Peter’s Health Partners, says they have students in her department frequently, but the high school students in New Visions show a unique interest.
“We have lots of students here, nursing students, LPN students, pharmacy students, we take all of them. The high school students have been the most excited and intrigued to be here and it’s been really nice.”
She says when students are on rotation in the operating room, they start with patients getting their IV’s placed and other preparations for surgery. They then watch the procedure and follow the patients to recovery, getting to see the whole process from beginning to end.
Judy Quinn, Nursing Director of Emergency Medicine at Samaritan Hospital, says in addition to the medical experience, there is a personal component too.
“We get to share what we do from a personal perspective. The students are with nurses who give their all every day and that’s what they’re going to be expected to do. You’ve got to connect with people and they see our staff doing that first-hand.”
The value of the program is not lost on the students, either. Through the experiences they partake in throughout the year, they can get a stronger idea of what specialty or area they want to pursue after high school. The wide range of rotations and exposure can also eliminate some possibilities if a student finds they don’t necessarily enjoy one department or area as much as they thought.
Averill Park senior Emily Haworth plans, like most students in the program, to attend medical school after completing her undergraduate studies. She says she likes the idea of specializing in pediatrics in whichever discipline she pursues.
“I’m learning towards orthopedics, so maybe a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, but only time will tell what I end up doing,” she says.
When asked what the most valuable experience has been for her so far this year, she struggled to pick just one.
“Every day at New Visions is honestly amazing. I come home with cool stories every day, and after a few months in the program, I can’t imagine myself doing anything different. This definitely reassures me I’m on the right path.”
She says it’s not just the medical experience that makes the program so worthwhile – it’s the way she and her peers learn.
“We’ve been taught to look at things contextually and see how everything is connected. We compare different aspects of the hospital and how it’s correlated to government, social class and technology.” That combined with the interactions with hospital staff as well as her classmates she says makes her feel like she’s truly learning what it takes to be a physician.
Camille Gardner of Brunswick CSD says the wide range of experiences is helping her make an informed decision about her future.
“We are exposed to essentially every field in the hospital, and it has really helped me narrow down and even broaden my horizons. Also, being completely immersed in the hospital is an eye opener for my peers and me. Nothing is sugarcoated and I have realized that it is the most realistic thing closest to actually working in a hospital.”
Alicia Clum, a senior at Hoosic Valley says the first-hand experience takes the learning to a higher level, not only in the medical sense but in the personal sense too.
“Seeing a surgery right in front of you is very different from seeing on a screen. I feel like you get to learn how to interact and interact with patients directly by talking with them or even just listening to the professional you are shadowing.”
The students aren’t the only ones who see the value in the work they are doing through the program.
“We are a community hospital. We love to give back to our community and the students in our community. We hope that some of these students may go to college here and someday want to work here,” DiScanio said when why Samaritan is such an eager participant in the program.
Quinn says their early interest is a wonderful thing to be part of.
“They are our future. Anybody that wants to go into the medical field today I see as potentially taking care of me and my family. The fact that they’re interested and want to be part of that culture and environment this early in their lives is amazing to me.”