Participants in last year’s NTIEC Hospital Internship Program at Tyler Memorial Hospital included (top, front, from left) Tunkhannock High School students Gabbie Bodine, Lily Fetterman and Madison Driscole; Katie Meeh from Wyalusing Valley High School; Makayla Davis from Elk Lake High School; Dawcin Jones from Wyalusing; (back) Bridget Wood, Madison Ostir, and Dakota Wilcox of Tunkhannock; Andryannah DeLong of Elk Lake; Rachel Morris of Tunkhannock; Daphne Fassett from Wyalusing; and Tyler Hospital director of surgical services Peg Rogers. Faith Mountain Christian Academy students Lianna Ord (above, left) and Bethany Latwinski check out the imaging/radiology lab at Endless Mountains Health Systems.
The Northern Tier Industry and Education Consortium (NTIEC) is about to kick off another season of the Hospital Internship Program at facilities in Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming counties. Qualified applicants from area high schools will be immersed in as many facets of the medical field as possible over the course of seven weeks.
According to NTIEC educational coordinator Deb Tierney, this will be the fifth year for the program, which got it’s inaugural run at Tyler Memorial Hospital in Tunkhannock. Within two years, Endless Mountains Health Systems (EMHS) was on board at their new facility in Montrose. This year, the Hospital Internship Program will make its debut at Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale.
The primary goal of the program is to expose local high school students to the numerous elements that comprise the medical field and to help them see that such opportunities exist locally.
Administrators at participating hospitals hope to make a good impression and stimulate an interest in program participants to someday work for them. That is especially important, Tierney noted, because “healthcare professionals in northeast Pennsylvania are aging, and there is nobody in line to take over when they are gone.” Additionally, students who wanted to go into healthcare or medicine once had to leave the area, Tierney related. “And they weren’t coming back.”
Such was the impetus behind the construction of the Scranton campus of the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. NTIEC’s Hospital Internship Program and the agency’s Healthcare Summer Experience program operate on the same premise. Both, Tierny explained, are geared “to let the students know that we have rural and high-end hospitals that require a well-trained healthcare staff.”
Some applicants have an idea of what they would like to do at a hospital while, for others, the interest is more general. The program caters to both.
“Sometimes students say they all want to be nurses,” said EMHS human resources director Paula Anderson. “They might leave wanting to be a nurse practitioner or a lab technician because they didn’t know that they could get into some of those positions.”
“Students don’t realize the wide range of jobs that are available on the campus of a medical facility,” NTIEC educational coordinator Colin Furneaux stated, citing common responses to surveys of those who have completed the program.
“They love to go to the ER and the OR,” Tyler human resources director Diana Petlock said of the students who have been through the program there. “They get to scrub up and go back into the operating area, which is a place that few people get to see. When you go to the OR, you’re usually sedated.”
Applicants are asked in advance what their general area of interest is, Anderson explained. “We try to address that first, but we make sure they get around to all of the departments.” The students see the nursing department, Anderson related, but then they also go to radiology and physical therapy to see how they relate to nursing. “That’s part of the patient’s day,” Anderson noted. “It’s all connected.”
The opportunities are not solely medical, Tierney pointed out, citing administration, engineering, accounting, facility maintenance, dietary specialists, business management, imaging, and information technology among potential career options.
“Records keeping is going to be huge,” Tierney offered as an example, “and the massive IT infrastructure they will have to have to handle that.”
While the Hospital Internship Program is still relatively new, Anderson and Petlock are already seeing results. Participants have circled back to volunteer and take part time jobs, and they can be an effective public relations tool.
“A handful of students who have been through the program have come to work for us as nurse’s aids while they are going through college,” Anderson related. “They must have had a positive experience to want to work here.”
“The bigger benefit to us is the ‘word of mouth’ after they see our services,” Petlock suggested. “Just for them to go back and talk to their families about things they never knew existed here is huge.”
The Hospital Internship Program is run in the fall and the spring. Class size is limited. Applications can be obtained in most high school guidance departments or online at www.ntiec.com. The program starts at Tyler Memorial Hospital on Sept. 26, at EMHS on Oct. 3, and at Wayne Memorial Hospital on Oct. 8.
Guidance counselors make their recommendations to Tierney after factoring in scholastic achievements, including grades and attendance. If the fall class at the preferred institution is already full, the student goes onto a waiting list for next session. Students can participate more than once and at more than one facility.
Katie Meah of Wyalusing Valley High School (above) and Dakota Wilcox of Tunkhannock Area High School (below) take seats in the life flight helicopter at Tyler Memorial Hospital last fall.
Participants in last year’s NTIEC Hospital Internship Program at Endless Mountains Health Systems included Faith Mountain Christian Academy students (above, from left) Lianna Ord, Bethany Latwinski, and Malinda Slocum and (from right) Jeri Schell of Blue Ridge High School, Allanna Warner of Elk Lake, and Hannah Nauroth of FMCA. Deb Tierney (center) is the educational coordinator for NTIEC.