Portage EDC’s Health 360 program lets high school students explore healthcare field

Portage EDC’s Health 360 program lets high school students explore healthcare field

Portage High School students were given an immersive look into the healthcare field on April 27 when they visited Ivy Tech Community College in Valparaiso to participate in the Portage EDC’s Health 360 program.

The program is designed to help students learn about the many different career options in healthcare through interactive activities and hands-on learning. 

“The whole point of the program is to expose students to the job opportunities that are in the healthcare field,” said Portage EDC Executive Director Andy Maletta. “The idea here is that there's a big demand for those jobs. We've got kids in high school looking for what career paths they want to take and so we give them a chance to get exposed to what those career paths are. They get to see hands on what it's about, and then maybe also inform those decisions on what they want to do after they get out of high school.”

Students began the morning in three groups to visit stations set up by Northwest Health, NorthShore Health Centers, and Community Healthcare System, each discussing healthcare jobs such as a nurse, dentist, chiropractor, OB-GYN, and many more. 

The displays by the hospitals allowed students to be introduced to real-life scenarios found on the job presented by people directly involved in the field. This was extremely beneficial to the students as they were both able to learn about the job and have their questions answered straight from the sources themselves. 

“We’re trying to get them interested in healthcare careers and kind of showcase some of the different things that would be available to them if they pursue a career in health care,” said Northwest Health Heart Failure Coordinator Keri Nelson. “Christina and I are demonstrating nursing; we're both cardiac nurses, and we've got a little station here with a few different cardiac related things to show the students. We’re doing a little hands-on thing, giving some medication, and treating a patient who's in a crisis situation.”

Portage EDC Healthcare 360

Portage EDC Healthcare 360 150 Photos
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Healthcare providers also enjoyed sharing information with students to help them learn more as well. Many set up elaborate displays and diagrams to help give a visual representation to what they were talking about to help students connect it all together.

“I really, really enjoy dental education and community outreach, “said Northshore Health Centers Dental Director Emilia Blaser. “I was really excited. It's really fun to talk to the kids to see who's interested in entering the healthcare field and to help give them an idea of what it's like.”

In the afternoon, students then switched between six different stations led by the Ivy Tech staff: EMS/National Guard, EKG, Medical Assisting Nursing SIMS Lab, Pharmacy, and Surgical Technology. Here students were able to learn things such as how to correctly bandage a wound, how to remove staples, how to perform CRP,  how to remove gallbladder stones, and how to sort prescriptions. Additionally, students were also given the chance to watch two Ivy Tech students perform a test recording of measuring the heart's activity, experience the scene inside an ambulance, and be introduced to the test mannequins college students use for practice. Some mannequins even had the ability to perform real life functions such as sweating, breathing, and seizing, and students were very entertained by what all they were capable of.  

The kids also really enjoyed learning about all aspects in detail about the medical field, saying it really helped them focus on specifically what they want to do as a career. Junior Deja Pitts, whose dream job is to be a phlebotomist, liked that she was able to learn all the options available to her to help her reach that goal.

“This is helping me to decide which path I want to take just in case I just want to change my career. It's really helpful to see the different career paths,” she said.

The program proved to be a huge success, as many students left more confident than ever in the career path they want to take after high school. With the help of Portage EDC and local hospitals, the over 80 students who attended felt more than ready to see what is to come in the world of healthcare.

For more information on the Portage EDC, visit portagein.org.