Science and Health Career Club takes area middle school children on a field trip to O’Bleness Memorial Hospital   


Note: This story was edited at 11:03 a.m. 05-10-06

by Jennifer Kowalewski

Students from area middle schools saw health-care workers in action April 27 on a tour of O’Bleness Memorial Hospital. The students are members of the Science and Health Careers Club, a program supported by the college’s Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP). HCOP acts as a pipeline into college or health-care careers for students who are economically or educationally disadvantaged.

The club is open to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students from Southeastern Ohio and sponsors activities as science and math presentations, cultural competence sessions, job shadowing experience, health exploration, college financial aid workshops, a precollege workshop and field trips such as this to O'Bleness.

“For these students, participating in an activity such as this, the tour of O’Bleness, is a way of exploring what they might want to do with the rest of their lives,” says Hal Patton, project BOOST coordinator and athletic director at Vinton Middle School. “This helps to open their eyes to what may be available to them in the health fields.”

Vinton is one of four area districts that sent about two dozen children to O’Bleness. OU-COM provided transportation for the schools, which also included ones in Meigs and Alexander, to the hospital for a one-and-a-half-hour tour.

Patton says the Science and Health Career Club at his school began nearly six years ago. O’Bleness opened its facilities four years ago to the tour, which gave the students the opportunity to see behind the scenes in a hospital.

It was the first chance for these students to see what goes on in a hospital from the perspective of those who make it work, Patton says, adding most found it intriguing to see what happens in different areas of the hospital.

“We want to keep these children interested in health careers,” says Ingrid Auguste-Keesey, Center of Excellence for Multicultural Medicine’s interim precollege and communications coordinator. “We want to expose them to the great opportunities available to them. The visit helped these students better understand what real-world health care involves and that they could be a part of it.”

By getting involved in the club and having experiences such as the tour, the students learn what is expected of them if they are to succeed, she says. Goal-oriented students perform better throughout their years in school.

“We packed a lot of information into a short amount of time,” Auguste-Keesey says, adding hospital staff spoke to students about careers in nursing, dietetics, pharmacology and other related field. “O’Bleness did a wonderful job.”

The staff at O’Bleness talked to the students about what it takes to succeed in a given profession, including what educational preparation is required. Students had a chance to ask questions and learned about the opportunities in medical fields.

When a licensed practical nurse spoke to the students, she stressed how she received her degree in just one year. Auguste-Keesey says this showed the students how, in just a short period of time, they could begin a career in a medical field, not just have a job.

The students also got a real thrill by talking with a paramedic-nurse who is part of the helicopter emergency transport team.

The tour of O’Bleness is now almost a precursor for Summer Institute, a HCOP program in which these students are exposed to life at the university for a week.

Auguste-Keesey says, overall, the visit was successful, reaching these students with a message.

“These students have a future in health care,” says Auguste-Keesey, “as long as they continue to apply themselves in school.”


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  Ohio University
College of Osteopathic Medicine
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Last updated: 03/27/2008