Hands-on health assisting

From left, nursing students Maia Ponte, Ashlee Moreis, and Amanda Pachico speak with a hospital staff member. —Elizabeth Dourian

By Adeline Hayman

Students traded in their pencils and notebooks for scrubs and the firsthand experience of observing at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital as part of the Health Assisting Program.

Career Technical Education (CTE) director Barbara-Jean Chauvin said, “This program started because of a tremendous need to train individuals in the healthcare field here on the Island. There are many jobs at all skill levels that are going unfilled at both the hospital and Windemere. Students graduating from the Health Assisting Program at the high school will have multiple options after high school, including going directly to work or pursuing higher education in the healthcare field.”

Students participating in the mentorship are required to have taken the exploratory program, which is offered in the freshman year. This enables them to continue on to higher levels of the program and get involved in the hospital community. Students visit the hospital twice a week, and work in a variety of different fields, including physical therapy, dialysis, the emergency room (ER), maternity, acute care, Windemere, and the lab. Rotations in the operating room (OR) and radiology may be added to the schedule in the future. HAP director Mary Vivian expressed her gratitude to the hospital and Windemere staff for taking time to teach and include the students.

Mrs. Chauvin said, “My hope is that the program will fill a need in the community and jump-start the training, certification, and education for students interested in the healthcare field, including everything from medical assistant to nursing to pharmaceuticals.”

“My favorite part about the nursing program is being in the hospital; it’s crazy and exciting,” said junior Ashlee Moreis. “It’s always been my passion to work in the ER as a paramedic or something. This program will help expose me to the right people and departments, bringing me closer to achieving my goals in the long run.” Through this program, high schoolers can work side by side with professionals and get a taste for the hands-on experience of day-to-day work in a hospital.

Junior Amanda Pachico said, “My favorite part about nursing is just being able to learn really helpful skills that will not only help me if I go into the medical field, but also help me in everyday life.” Not only has Amanda learned extensive medical terminology and basic medical skills, but she feels it has also made her realize that going into the medical field is a lot of work, and the mentorship has helped narrow down her fields of interest if she chooses to pursue a job in healthcare.