Teenage volunteers learn about healthcare

July 14, 2004|JULIE McGLOTHLIN

It's not every day you see teenagers working in a hospital. But with the teen volunteer program at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, there are numerous high schoolers lending a hand.

Abbie Streeval, 14, of Liberty, is one of them. A freshman at Casey County High School, Abbie wants to be a pharmacist.

As a teen volunteer, she is testing out the career in the hospital pharmacy from July 7 until Aug. 5.

While those students volunteering in registration or merchandise at the gift store were told beforehand specifically what they would be doing, Abbie was going to find out on her first day.

"I'm excited to get to see how it works," she says. "I'm not very nervous even though I usually am."

Abbie estimates there are 30 teen volunteers in the program, working everywhere from McDowell Place to radiology.

At their orientation, the volunteers heard about confidentiality and the consequences of violating those statutes as well as the HIPPA rules. Program coordinators listed expectations, and the do's an don'ts of volunteering. According to Abbie, "one silly thing you can do is that you can comb a patient's hair," but you can't sit down on someone's bed if you're in their room.


Abbie found out she could volunteer in the hospital pharmacy last summer while attending Health Care Career Camp, a week-long day camp for middle schoolers sponsored by Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center and Midway College. She has participated in the camp for the last two summers.

The camp provides opportunities to learn about health care professions. The students also get experience in checking their blood sugar, looking at hair and nail samples under a microscope, taking blood pressure, learning how a prescription gets to a patient and exploring how the heart works.

"It was very good hands-on experience," Abbie says. "They always kept you busy."

Last year, the camp took a trip to Midway College, where they visited the pharmacy. The students had the opportunity to make prescription labels, count pills and look up prescriptions on the Internet. For Abbie, that was the best experience of the camp. "It showed everything that I actually wanted to know about."

The first year Abbie went to Health Careers Camp she wanted to be a speech therapist, but after last year's camp, she decided that pharmacy "just looked neater."

Pharmacy appeals to Abbie because she wants to help people. In addition to exploring the pharmacy with Health Career Camp last summer, she gets insight into the profession from her aunt, who is a pharmacist. "I'm sort of dreading (so much school), but I think, after all that college, it will still be neat."

To learn more about next summer's teen volunteer program, contact Theresa Conder at (859) 239-1231.

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