Many seek to make a difference, to make an impact on the world however possible, no matter their gifts – and one local hospital recently continued its annual glimpse into how students can make a difference in a patient’s life no matter their role.
Each year, Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital offers a summer junior volunteer program, when students age 15 to 17 can volunteer during the summer, or volunteer year-round beginning with placement in the summer program, which runs June 1 to July 31.
During the program, MHGH also sets aside time for educators to learn more about the inner workings of a hospital from all angles, both operational and technical.
“I just wanted to get a feel for the hospital, because I do want to go into the medical field – I want to make a difference in people’s lives. My main goal is to make sure everyone smiles – I love seeing people smile and making it happen,” said Michael Clulow, who just graduated from Memorial High School and was participating in MHGH’s program for the second time. “When you help someone, it’s fun to walk away knowing you were able to make someone else happy.”
At the same time high school students were getting acquainted with the hospital, educators such as DeBakey HS teachers Zahra Sundrani and Drieca Hopkins, career and technical education health science teacher for Sharpstown High School, were visiting the imaging, rehab, labs, engineering, ER and ICU.
One thing that emerged quickly is that a hospital is so much more than doctors and nurses.
“There are so many career routes you can take in health care,” Sundrani said.
“We used to be a program to groom doctors and nurses,” Thomas added.
Now the schools offer a more diverse selection of education tracks to prepare them for health care jobs in administration, engineering and other sectors.
“Health care has always been vast. We try to get students certified before they leave high school,” said Hopkins. “The first thing they think is that everyone in a hospital wears scrubs.
I’m like, no. I’m a coder by trade. I know anatomy, but I don’t do blood and guts. There’s a business side to hospitals.”
“Our goal for teachers is that they can take these examples back to their schools and share a full view of the hospital,” said Mary Grace Joseph with Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital.
MHGH Director of Volunteer and Patient Relations/Patient Experience Cheryl Ivy said more than 100 students apply for the summer program, but only 40 are ultimately chosen. The students are put through a rigorous process that mimics a job application: interviews, letters of recommendation, and orientation.
“It’s not so much what do you want to be, but what do you want to do. If you want to make a difference, this is a great opportunity,” Ivy said.
The current incarnation is the third year for the program, which is now a 50-hour course from June 1 to July 31. The students have shifts twice a week.
“My goal for them is to learn something about health care and about themselves. It’s a way for them to feel like they’ve done something meaningful this summer,” Ivy said.
The students rotate between operational and clinical sides of the hospital, in addition to completing a special project. For example, one group proposed offering hygiene kits to patients after seeing a need. Others, such as Clulow, were responsible for assigning shifts and making sure every shift was covered.
“My favorite thing about this program is the people, because I get to build all these new relationships. It’s fun meeting all these new people who also want to make others happy,” he said. “We’re all just a big group of people who want to help make the world a better place.”