Area teens get firsthand view of medical careers at Good Shepherd

BARRINGTON – High school observation students are quickly learning that hospital work is nothing like how Hollywood portrays it.

Under the guidance of dozens of Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital medical professionals, 10 local students are spending three weeks of their summer vacation participating in a Future Healthcare Professionals Program.

The high school seniors have been selected through an extensive application and interview process to observe the medical field at large – everything from nursing to being a physician, surgeon, therapist, radiologist, pharmacist, dietitian, lab technician and more.

The Future Healthcare Professionals Program panel accepted two more students than usual this year. Students are attending from Mundelein, Barrington, Stevenson, St. Viator, Marian Central, Cary-Grove, Jacobs and Lake Zurich high schools.

Dr. Barry Rosen, vice president of medical management at Good Shepherd, said the longtime program is a unique opportunity for high school students who otherwise would not be able to observe the different health care roles in action.

"There is so much happening within the hospital," Rosen said, adding the students may choose a different career path than they had planned after being exposed to a variety of occupations.

Barrington student Koral Shah said she knows she wants to be a physician but is still trying to choose a category of practice.

Shah is attending the program in conjunction with working part time at an ice cream store this summer.

"I just really appreciate the opportunity," Shah said. "I didn't know there were so many departments in a hospital. All my friends are vacationing, but I enjoy working and getting to know the other students."

Program co-chairs Wendy Perlin and Jan Preston explained that the students observe hospital staff from about 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, learning more about specific health care professions, job outlook, required education and annual salaries before journaling and working on a group research project in the later afternoon.

The students were selected based on a written application, submitted transcripts and letters of reference. They also interviewed with a panel of hospital associates before beginning the program. At the end of week three, the students will present a research project covering a current health care, ethics, modern medicine or management issue. They are evaluated on their ability to be safe, responsive, respectful, professional, accountable and collaborative in a hospital setting.

More than 50 students applied this year, Perlin said, adding that most high school students, let alone college students, would never have access to such a program.

"Our college interns have already selected an area of study when they are placed within the hospital," Perlin said. "The observation program is much more broad."

Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington is staffed with more than 700 physicians representing 50 medical specialties – doctors who display professionalism day in and day out, according to Jacobs student Samir Khowaja.

Khowaja said he expected to find that hospital workers were always stressed, based on what he had seen on TV.

"The doctors are all so calm here," Khowaja said, adding that he most enjoys connecting with new patients.

"The patients always ask me if they'll see me again when I visit," Khowaja said. "It's neat. The day is long and tiring, but it's worth it. I know I'm building a better mindset – a better self every day."

Khowaja had just witnessed a kidney biopsy before journaling that day, he said.

Lake Zurich student Austin Keller, too, said the program has already been life changing.

"I have friends that are in summer school, and that's great, but I know that I'm going to learn and retain more from this program than I would in a classroom," Keller said.

Keller said he looks forward to having experience to write about when applying to colleges this year.

Applications for the program are available to juniors each February.

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