May 14, 2017
This was not your normal school bus ride for Portage High School students. On their way to explore healthcare careers at Porter Regional Hospital, the students were told the following scenario: A woman had come to the hospital’s emergency room complaining of chest pains.
There was a collective sigh of relief when the students were then informed that the “patient” and her symptoms were fictitious. The scenario had been created by the hospital in order that the students could talk with the various staff that becomes involved everyday in real, life-or-death situations.
In one hour, the 70 students — assembled in a large meeting room — met for 10 minutes with each of five different hospital teams, each group representing key departments who would work with our virtual patient.
“We likened the experience to speed dating,” said Sandra Oliver, a representative of the hospital’s human resources department.
Students met with a group of registered nurses, surgical technologists, EMS and paramedics, health information managers, and food service representatives.
“Doctors and nurses are the jobs that young people generally associate with hospitals,” said Oliver. “Our presentation allowed our guests to understand the wide variety of jobs and skill sets our employees have.”
The hospital was thrilled to host the students, as demand for healthcare workers will be high over the next few years.
According to Michael Stephens, assistant superintendent of Portage Township Schools, the students also visited the Valparaiso Health Center of St. Mary Medical Center, and the Northshore Health Center in Portage. The final stop for the students was to the Ivy Tech Community College campus in Valparaiso, where information was shared about healthcare certifications and degrees.
“Healthcare 360 — the name of this event — is to spark an interest with our students in the healthcare field,” said Stephens.
A big champion of the event is Andrew Maletta, director of economic development for the city of Portage. “The key to attracting and retaining good jobs is the quality of your workforce,” said Maletta. “We have great jobs, great wages and great careers in our community. Our kids don’t have to leave town to find a good job.”
In full agreement with Maletta’s assessment is Chris Sheid, director of marketing and community relations for St. Mary Medical Center. The Portage High School students were scheduled to visit the hospital's Valparaiso Health Center on April 26 to tour the facility's laboratory and diagnostic testing areas.
“Healthcare offers students in Northwest Indiana many important and fulfilling career options,” said Sheid. “We are excited to take students behind the scenes and show them what's involved in providing outpatient diagnostic, physical therapy, laboratory, biomedical engineering, and immediate care services in Porter County.”
Maletta says he is already working on student visits next fall to area manufacturing facilities. To date, 10 local firms have indicated interest in opening their doors to the next generation of workers. “You know you have a good program when employers are calling me to be a part of this program.”
The READY NWI partnership supports the unique aspects of community, school, and student, and embraces a commitment to regional thinking and acting in order to ensure prosperity by meeting the skill and education needs of employers throughout Northwest Indiana.