This semester, Forrest General Hospital hosted Health Science II students from the Lamar County, Petal, and Hattiesburg Public school districts. During their time at the hospital, students had the opportunity to hone their knowledge about potential healthcare careers.
Students, who wear scrubs, and shadow healthcare professionals, aren’t hands-on and have no direct patient contact. They are required to get at least 100 clinical hours during twice-weekly visits to the hospital where they work through eight rotations — Central Sterile, Central Transport, Radiology, Respiratory Therapy, Rehabilitation, 2T, 3T, and 5T. These are the first classes to return to the hospital since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
PHS Instructor, Karla Hogan, RN, said her students were excited about coming back to the hospital for the experiences, “because that’s what we’re trying to give them. We want to open their eyes to all the healthcare careers, not just ones they think they are interested in. Our job is to teach them about everything, so they can make an informed career decision. We don’t want them to go to nursing school for four years and then realize they hate nursing. At FGH, they follow a nurse to see what a nurse does.”
“We are thrilled that Forrest General allowed us to come back here,” said Hogan, a registered nurse, who has been on the job for 25 years and previously worked in OB/GYN, Endoscopy, Med/Surg, and Pediatrics.
During their shadowing, students can talk to healthcare professionals about what kind of education is required for the job, why they pursued a particular career, suggestions for the best route to take, least favorite and most favorite part of the job, challenges of the job, or what is most rewarding.
Back in the classroom, students follow a curriculum and talk more about the specifics of the job and the required skills. “Everything we see at the hospital, we relate back to in the classroom, in some shape, form, or fashion,” Hattiesburg High School instructor, Mimi Wilson, said.
Wilson said the knowledge students garner while at the hospital is so important. “Being an instructor, my goal when they came to the program was for all of them to be CNAs. My goal has now been elevated, and I want them to become RNs,” she said. “This experience actually teaches them what a textbook can’t teach them. We do have a sim lab, but it’s nothing like the real thing. This prepares the students for the next level to have this clinical education.”
HHS student, A’Dymun Walker, described her experience at Forrest General as great. “The nurses I’ve been shadowing on every floor taught me different things. Central Sterile has been my favorite,” she said.
Samia Booth, another HHS student who was shadowing on 2T, said when she was little, she had dreams of being a nurse. Now, she’s considering a career as an OB/GYN. “I really care about postpartum care, because I want to make sure moms have a safe birthing process and babies come into the world safely,” she said. “It’s been a really good experience to shadow real healthcare professionals and see what they do on a day-to-day basis and what my day might be like once I get into the field.”
The PA (physician assistant) field is one that interests Ella Grace Mabry, a student at Petal High School. “The Health Science class has helped me find my perspective and see the different fields, see different experiences, and how those experiences can vary in different clinical settings,” she said. She found Patient Transport to be a very interesting area. “I like seeing different parts of the hospital and meeting a variety of people from all different backgrounds, all in one place, all for one reason – they need help, and there are people here to help them,” she said.
PHS student Kaylee Jones hopes to be a traveling nurses and “see it all.” She has had the opportunity to see various X-rays, and therapists in Rehab work with a person who had been in a car accident and needed assistance with leg and arm motions. “Having the opportunity to learn how to approach different patients and talk to patients has helped me improve my communication skills.”
Ethan Smith, a Petal student, considered a career in the healthcare profession because he felt like it provided good money. “But, I like seeing patients getting better,” he said. “There’s a bit of happiness. Something happens to someone, then they come to the hospital, and it’s like they just miraculously fix it. There are so many different things in the healthcare field that seem like miracles of medicine.”
“FGH providing this experience for our students is many times life-changing as it helps students cement what their career choice will be and help mold the future of healthcare,” Laura Fails, instructor for the Lamar County class, said.
For more information about the program, visit www.forresthealth.org.