ALBANY – Lee County High School students interested in careers in health care are getting valuable work experience at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

Eight juniors and seniors who participate in the LCHS Work-Based Learning Program are currently interning in the Phoebe Simulation and Innovation Center.

“They are so efficient,” Simulation and Innovation Center Manager Larecia Gill said in a Phoebe news release. “When we ask them to do something, in 10 minutes, they’re back looking for something else to do. It’s working out better than we could have imagined.”

The students will work 5-15 hours per week at Phoebe for the remainder of the school year.

“It helps the students learn how the real world works,” Betty Suggs, LCHS Work-Based Learning Program coordinator, said. “They learn soft skills like how to present themselves and talk to people. They also see the job skills it will take to succeed in health care professions.”

All of the students are enrolled in the LCHS health care pathway and plan to pursue careers as nurses, pharmacists or other health care professionals. Senior Emma Hancock has been taking those health care classes since her sophomore year and is interested in becoming a neonatal nurse.

“I got to sit in on classes for neonatal and mother/baby nurses, and I got to intubate one of the (mannequin) babies, and that was cool,” Hancock said. “Learning what you would do as a neonatal nurse makes me want to do it even more.”

The work-based learning program includes nine pathways: agriculture, business, construction, criminal justice, health care, marketing, NJROTC, teaching as a profession and welding. All the students chosen to work at Phoebe had to fill out an application, submit a resume and write an essay about why they want to work in health care.

“It’s a great opportunity for our kids. I just thank Phoebe for letting them come. It’s been great,” Suggs said.

Right now, the students interning at Phoebe are completing tasks such as setting up the high-tech mannequins and other simulation equipment for training scenarios, cleaning up after the scenarios and stocking supplies. Phoebe nurse educators are working on curriculum that will allow the students to get more hands-on experience and work safely in some other areas of the hospital. Hancock said she looks forward to those opportunities and is grateful for what she has already experienced at Phoebe.

“It’s very helpful to figure out what you want to do and to explore the health care field,” she said.

Phoebe’s alliance with LCHS is an important part of the health system’s commitment to educational partnerships at every level of the education system, all with a goal of creating a constant pipeline of new employees to serve the health care needs of southwest Georgians. Gill said she believes the enthusiasm the Lee County students have brought to the Phoebe Simulation and Innovation Center is proof that strategy will pay off.

“They have asked us to teach them skills that our new nurses often struggle with,” she said. “For them to learn those skills at 17 or 18 will strengthen their abilities and prepare them well for the profession. Hopefully, they’ll like it enough that they’ll come back to Phoebe after college.”

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