Submitted by Providence Medical Group

Following a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) fair put on by the Boston Harbor Elementary PTA last year, four caregivers from Providence in Southwest Washington decided more exposure to healthcare careers was needed for local students.

Providence Medical Group ED desk
Dr. Anurag Jindal and other members of the Providence St. Peter Emergency Center give examples of their work. Photo courtesy: Providence Medical Group

The group – Meghan Duffie, M.D. (a primary care physician at Providence Medical Group – Hawks Prairie Family Medicine); Anurag Jindal, M.D. (Providence St. Peter Emergency Center); Lenna Lizberg (director of Risk Management and Clinical Documentation for Providence St. Peter Hospital) and Rochelle Potter, RN (Quality specialist at Providence St. Peter Hospital) – had third graders at Boston Harbor.

“There is little access for interested high school students to volunteer in healthcare to gain exposure and we came away (from the elementary fair) thinking we could do this on a bigger scale and introduce students to the exciting science and technology in healthcare,” said Dr. Duffie. “We approached the school district with this idea and they were excited to collaborate.”

With the support of Providence leadership, the group teamed with Olympia High School, who helped arrange and plan the event. The Olympia School District is especially interested in community connections to involve their students and increasing hands on learning activities.  Planning spread as wide as students working with the Providence Marketing/Communication Department to make the materials to promote the event.

Providence Medical Group Sports Med 2
Sports Medicine physicians from the Providence Medical Group, Drs. David Brown and Cody Franzen show how ultrasound works to a group of students. Photo courtesy: Providence Medical Group

“When presented with this idea I was thrilled! I receive numerous requests from our high school students to find job shadows, internships and opportunities to volunteer in health care fields, and it is difficult to source these opportunities,” said Jen Boelts, Olympia Career Center counselor. “This event was the perfect combination of both exposure to health care fields to middle school students and provided high school students a chance to participate in a leadership role by partnering with these professionals to support their demonstrations. High Schools students gaining one on one time to work with a professional in a medical field they are interested in and middle school students gaining exposure to a variety of in demand careers.”

There were about 30 high school students who partnered as ambassadors at each of the 45 booths at the event. Nearly 200 middle school students from throughout Thurston County attended.

“At our primary care booth, we taught our high school ambassador to take blood pressure and in then he in turn taught many of the other students that lined up interested to try it out,” said Dr. Duffie. “Various community medical professionals and staff from throughout Providence Southwest – as well as many community and private practice providers and staff – volunteered their time and energy to put on hands on booths targeting middle school kids.”

Some of the booths included:

  • Jindal’s team of ER doctors taught kids suturing and reading imaging
  • Peter’s Nursing Education did ultraviolet hand washing testing and taught kids CPR
  • Lindsay Oram in Medical Imaging guided students to try out ultrasound on volunteers
  • Ear, nose and throat Dr. Sung-won Kim let students practice sinus surgery on a fake head
  • Is it Dr. Benjamin Merrifield with gastroenterology had students retrieve swallowed foreign body and try out endoscopies
  • Providence Medical Group Lazio and student
    Neurosurgeon Barbara Lazio speaks with a student about the brain and spine. Photo courtesy: Providence Medical Group

    Dr Rich Whitten, Pathologist, brought his double headed microscope to look at cancer on the cellular level

  • Children learned how the eye ball works from Dr. Penny Reck
  • Barbara Lazio, neurosurgeon, showed students video footage of brain surgery
  • Providence Hawks Prairie primary care clinic did a booth teaching kids to take vitals and what it means if blood pressure is abnormal
  • Diana Currie and St. Peter Family Medicine residency volunteers, along with midwife Carrie Bussie brought a volunteer pregnant women to let the kids try ultrasounding
  • Scott Krug demonstrated vascular surgery
  • Michelle Engelkin of anesthesia let kids try intubations on a dummy and practice placing ultrasound guided lines on chicken breasts
  • Providence Medical Group genetic counselors taught kids about genetic traits
  • Sports medicine physicians David Brown and Cody Franzen let kids practice ultrasound guided injections
  • Kelly Morgan and Allison Strong, speech therapists, showed what vocal cord nodules look like
  • Peter Pharmacy residents demonstrated that pharmacy is more than counting pills
  • Physical therapists, occupational therapists, acupuncturist Rain Delvin, and James Waggoner demonstrated massage therapy
  • Many, many other booths from providers throughout the community

“Given this was the first time something like this has been done locally, we were amazed by the effort and energy of our healthcare volunteers,” said Dr. Duffie. “The Olympia CTE Department and the high school students to put this all together and it run so smoothly.”

Providence Medical Group Oly students
2019 Health Care Career Fair Student Ambassadors – future doctors, nurses, psychologists and health care professionals
All students are from OHS.
Row 1: (blue stripes from L to R) Elizabeth Shang, Florence Ho – Student Ambassador Co-Coordinator, Sruti Maikala, Supraja Kadagandla – Student Ambassador Co-Coordinator, Mruthula Mohanvanathi
Row 2: (girl in Olympia GAME DAY white shirt L to R) Vanessa Chan, Asher Coppin, Pearl Ko, Tina Tran, Sowmya Duddu, Ashley Javier, Maelynn Danke, Pranav Gundrala, Abby Burtner, Juila Marzella
Row 3: (L to R starting with ME) Jen Boelts – OHS Career & College Readiness Counselor & Health Care Fair Coordinator, Yazmen Johnson, Makayla Simon, Sierrra Edgerton, Samantha Savel, Elle Gallion, Andrew Liu, Wu Merkurieff
Row 4: (L to R Boy with White shirt) Danush Sunchu, Marcus Sebastian, Freja Owen, Anna Merrifield (not pictured Una Noski). Photo courtesy: Providence Medical Group
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