Canton, Ohio: Mercy Medical Center recently hosted 16 middle-school students from Canton City School District’s STEAMM Academy @ Hartford for an interactive, behind-the-scenes tour of the hospital’s surgery center robot, lab, rehab center, pharmacy, emergency department and dental clinic.
The tour served as the culminating event for the Mercy White Coat Seminar, a six-week, career-exploration program intended to inspire high-achieving students to imagine themselves working in the field of medicine. To further spark imagination, students received a white lab coat and other personal protective equipment to wear during the field trip. They also ate in Mercy’s cafeteria and were taught how to check blood pressure and pulse. Finally, each student took home a textbook that describes in detail various health-care careers.
This initiative was a collaboration between Mercy Mission Outreach, the medical center and Hartford School, and it was funded in part by a grant from the Canton Regional Area Health Education Center (AHEC) of nearly $1,000. AHEC, established in 1978, currently supports undergraduate and graduate medical, nursing, pharmacy and allied health education for the recruitment, training and retention of health-care professionals.
Interactive Classroom Learning Leads Up to Tour
Leading up to the tour, Mercy employees facilitated five hands-on classroom sessions, including simulations, presentations and Q&A. Sister Carolyn Capuano, HM, vice president of mission and ministry, attended two of the classroom sessions and says the program has been well received.
“The students have been so engaged, and teachers tell us the ‘buzz’ continues long after the informal, responsive classroom sessions, which were designed to coordinate with the school’s science, math and technology curriculum,” she says. “I am excited and blessed by the high level of student attention and interest. They seem to love it! Likewise, all of the hospital employees have enjoyed their time with the students, as well as the opportunity to let others know the work they do to heal and save lives every day.”
Plans to Continue Career Exploration Through High School Under Development
Mercy plans to stay connected with these students, and ideas for carrying the White Coat Seminar into the high-school years are currently being developed.
“It is our hope that this first cohort and all future cohorts will form health affinity groups to study and address together various community health needs,” says Capuano. “The team is working together to possibly replicate this program for other schools or school systems.”
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