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Huntley High School, Centegra Hospital's residency program gives students glimpse into medical careers

HUNTLEY – At Centegra Hospital – Huntley, Maddy Moffett listened to the heartbeat of 2-week-old Braxton Emery. 

It was the first time Moffett, a senior at Huntley High School, had helped perform a checkup on a newborn. 

As part of Huntley High School and Centegra’s residency program, 24 students have spent two and a half hours every week shadowing mentors at the hospital in departments ranging from radiology to the catheterization laboratory. 

This is the first semester for the highly competitive program, which can hold up to 30 students. Students must be seniors who are part of Huntley High School’s Medical Academy, have completed a job shadow program in the field and have a minimum 3.5 GPA to apply for the residency program. 

“Seeing every side of medicine is what’s been the best part of it,” Moffett said. “I’m interested in things that I never even knew about.”

During his rotation, senior John Galason listened to hospitalist Imran Osmani explain charting and computer work for his department while patients were resting during the hospital’s quiet hours. 

“I’m asking questions like where [Osmani] went to school and what he does on a daily basis,” Galason said. “He kind of just walks me through what he’s doing, and I just watch him.”

On another one of Galason’s rotations, he watched a birth. Galason said the program has helped him see firsthand what happens in the hospital, rather than just hearing about it.

“I’m interested in anesthesiology, but that could change,” Galason said. “That’s why I’m doing this.” 

Students spent the beginning of the semester learning hospital rules, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and CPR. They also study in class before each rotation so they know what they’ll be doing, and can ask the professionals questions. 

Sheilagh Delorenzo, the teacher who oversees the program, said students always are coming into class with stories of what organ they held during their rotation, or what they helped the medical professionals do.

“It makes a connection for them, like what you’re doing, what you’re learning, is real,” Delorenzo said. 

Huntley School District 158 Superintendent John Burkey said he came up with the idea to partner with Centegra when planning started for the new hospital, which opened in August.

The program’s goal is to help students be prepared for jobs in the medical field, which are highly in demand, he said.

“What the kids are being able to experience in the medical field is just unparalleled for high school students,” Burkey said. 

Hospital staff already are used to working with the hundreds of college residents and shadowing students who visit the hospital, said Bernadette Szczepanski, senior vice president of human resources at Centegra Health System. But this is the first residency program offered for high school students.

While Szczepanski said expanding the program to Centegra’s hospitals in McHenry and Woodstock has been discussed, for now the program is staying in Huntley.

“It’s really expanding their knowledge of the various professions,” Szczepanski said. “And we’re hoping that as they continue to explore health care careers after their training, they’ll come back and serve their friends, family, community as a whole.” 

For Moffett, health care has always been something she’s been interested in, and she plans on sticking with it after graduation.

“I knew it was something that would present a challenge every day, and it’s always changing,” Moffett said. “You’re always learning new things, and I think that’s what I like about it most.” 

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