PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- From June 18 to 22, 13 high school students from four local high schools participated in Naval Hospital Pensacola's (NHP) Summer Medical Preparatory Program (SMP2).
The inaugural program was created to provide students interested in a career in medicine with an opportunity to gain experience in various aspects of health care.
"It's so important to show students the value of pursuing a career in medicine," said Capt. Elizabeth Adriano, executive officer, NHP. "We have an amazing and diverse staff at NHP who take great care of our patients, so this was our opportunity to provide these teenagers with an example of how rewarding it is to take care of patients who put their trust in us to care for them and hopefully inspire them to continue to pursue their dream of a career in medicine."
The majority of students, who range in age from 15 to 17, had previously participated in Escambia County's Health Academy, which provides health care classes to students interested in a career in medicine. With support from the Escambia County School District, SMP2 allowed the students to experience health care in an actual health care facility.
"I thought it would be interesting to experience different jobs in a hospital," said Kaleb Long, 15, a sophomore at Pensacola High School who wants to be a neurosurgeon. "The hands-on experience was my favorite part."
From making dental impressions to forming casts on each other to listening to the heartbeat of a newborn, the students had plenty of hands-on experience throughout the week. They also got to observe surgeries in the operating room and patient care in the Family Medicine Clinic.
"The surgeries were awesome," said Naomi Overholt, 17, a senior at Tate High School who wants to be a surgeon. "I wanted to see if I got queasy watching, but I didn't."
The students also got experience practicing medical care on NHP's realistic simulators. The simulators perform like real patients, including talking and moaning in pain, and allowed the students to learn and practice skills such as maintaining spine stabilization, controlling bleeding, placing IVs and restoring breathing. To put their skills to a test, the students participated in a realistic training where they had to save the life of simulated patient injured while riding a motorcycle.
"At first, there was some initial shock and we all kind of froze," said Raegan Tainter, 17, a senior at Tate High School who wants to be physician assistant, when asked about the simulated training, "but then everyone stepped up and applied what we had practiced."
Throughout the week, the teenagers from Pensacola, West Florida, Tate and Pine Forest High Schools got a behind the scenes look at a career in medicine and got to talk to and learn from physicians, nurses and corpsmen with years of experience. Perhaps one of the students will become the next great neurosurgeon or one will become a nurse whose compassion comforts the family of a cancer patient. Regardless of their future, they all got an opportunity to see how rewarding a career in health care can be and to make some new friends.
"I made new friends this week with the other students and some of the staff at Naval Hospital Pensacola," said Tainter. "I really enjoyed everyone that works at the hospital, they were so welcoming and friendly."
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