Cultivating the Next Generation of Healthcare Professionals

High school students participating in Novant Health’s Exploring Program. © Novant Health 2018


Hospitals know that being an active member of the community is essential to understanding how to help the community thrive. But engaging with the community can also play a big role in cultivating the next generation of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals that are the beating heart of every hospital.

“Healthcare is ever-evolving, and we need bright minds and compassionate hearts in order to continue providing remarkable care into the future,” says Liesl West, Community Health Project Coordinator at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center. “That’s one reason Novant Health participates in the Exploring program.”

The Exploring Program, previously known as Explorers, is an affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America. The program gives young people immersive career experience opportunities and mentorship to help them develop character, leadership and life skills and make informed decisions about their career paths.

“We want to help give high school students behind-the-scenes access to healthcare roles and spark insights about their potential goals and direction for the future,” West says.


Roll Up Your Sleeves

© Novant Health 2018

Teens who participate in the Novant Health Exploring program have the opportunity to attend monthly sessions that describe medical specialties and career areas such as emergency medicine, surgery, anesthesia and rehabilitation, as well as non-medical jobs like IT, engineering and maintenance.

“These sessions show students that there are many jobs in the hospital and all are necessary to care for patients,” West says.

For each subject area, students can talk with experts and ask questions – both about the subject, and about what the job is really like.

What’s more, the Exploring program gives students the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and try their hands at something new.

For example, students visiting the Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center got the chance to don protective gear and visit a robotic surgical unit. Instead of just looking at the high-tech equipment, they were given the chance to use it – wielding remotely-controlled robotic surgical tools to accomplish an assigned task. (It’s harder than it looks.)

The 2018-2019 Exploring session at Novant Health saw 392 students participating, across four medical centers, in Huntersville, Winston-Salem, Clemmons and Matthews.

“We want these young people to have the same passion we do for safeguarding the health of our communities,” West says.


Concentrated Experience

Iredell Health Camp Med high school students. © Iredell Health

But Exploring programs aren’t the only option for young people who are considering a career in healthcare. Many students aren’t able to take advantage of long-term programs that rely on multiple sessions spread across the school year. For some of those students, a program like “Camp Med” may be just what the doctor ordered.

The Camp Med Summer Program is run by the Iredell Health System and is based out of Iredell Memorial Hospital. Each summer, a select group of students gets to spend five days learning the inner workings of a medical center.

The program gives students a glimpse of every department in the hospital, as well as offering information about a wide range of healthcare careers.

But the program doesn’t just highlight what’s interesting or important about different specialties, it also delves into the principles of medical ethics, the challenges associated with different types of work, and the classroom work that students will need to do in order to pursue a career in healthcare.

Some students come in thinking they want to specialize in one field, and finish the program thinking they want to do something completely different. And that’s incredibly valuable, because it allows young people to channel their energy into a field that’s right for them.

And helping the next generation find their niche in healthcare is a win for the whole community – and our state.

© Iredell Health 2019


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