Canton, Ohio: Mercy Medical Center partners with Canton City Schools to offer adult learners in their GED program a six-week, shadowing program at the hospital. Named Pathfinders, students tour Mercy Medical Center and–based on their individual areas of interest–shadow Mercy employees in departments such as surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, ultrasound, mammography, dietary, registration, dental services, cardiac catheterization lab and more.
“Our intent is to plant the seed of opportunity,” says Karen Feller, director of Mission Outreach at Mercy Medical Center. “By shadowing hospital departments, our hope is that Pathfinders helps adult learners see first-hand the doors that will open and opportunities that begin with receiving their GED diploma.”
Pathfinder students visit Mercy Medical Center each week to shadow employees, meet for lunch and hear a guest speaker. Mercy employees from administration, human resources and volunteer services share information about health care careers and the hospital’s mission; how to apply and interview for a job; volunteer opportunities; and other career-building topics.
“With 17 students, this year has been our largest and most diverse group,” Feller says. Participants are GED students, displaced workers, young mothers, and English as a Second Language (ESL) students. “The spirit of this group has been inspiring,” Feller adds. “We’ve had great attendance, and the students show interest and excitement about health care opportunities.”
Mercy employees have embraced and welcomed Pathfinder students, according to Feller. “Human Resources leads the hospital tour, coordinates the match between students and Mercy employees, and staff throughout the hospital are proud to be a part of the program,” she says.
Georgiana Stelea, an ESL student from Romania, was unsure what career path to choose in the United States. “Participating in Pathfinders has been very beneficial,” Stelea says. “I now know I want to work in surgery.”
Other students have more personal reasons for being part of the Pathfinder program. Daphne Cleveland, a Pathfinders student, says her dad has been a paraplegic since he was 21, and she helps take care of him. “I have always wanted to take care of people,” Cleveland says. “My dad thinks it’s great I’m in this program and looking into health care.”
Shandra Johnson also has family reasons for participating in Pathfinders. “I want to get into the medical field, like my parents, so I can further my education for my kids’ sake,” Johnson says.
Pathfinder participants are selected through an application process with Canton City Schools. According to Jane Meyer, coordinator of the Adult Basic Literacy Program (ABLE) at Canton City Schools, the Pathfinder program is expanding thanks to a transitions grant from the Board of Regents. Next year, Mercy will have two groups of students participating in the shadowing program. Under the transitions grant, students will already have their high school diploma or GED certificate. This program provides both the shadowing experience and free “bridge” courses needed to get post-secondary education.
“Our goal is to get these adult learners experience in the real world so they know where their interests lie,” Meyer says. “With this transitions grant, we will be able to expand the program and serve more people.”
For more information about the Pathfinder program, call Canton City Schools at 330-438-2559.
Mercy Medical Center, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, operates a 476-bed hospital serving Stark, Carroll, Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas Counties and parts of Southeastern Ohio. It has 620 members on its Medical Staff and employs 2,500 people. Mercy operates outpatient health centers in Carrollton, Jackson Township, Lake Township, Louisville, North Canton, Plain Township and Tuscarawas County. A Catholic hospital, Mercy Medical Center upholds the mission and philosophy of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and continues to be responsive to the needs of the community. For more information, see cantonmercy.org.