Program helps rural hospitals recruit
Posted June 17
ALEXANDRIA, La. — Jared Hulsey's first day on the job as an emergency room technician at Rapides Regional Medical Center was June 9.
The Dodson native recently graduated from the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts and has a career plan in mind, thanks in part to a program he went through a year ago to the day.
The program called AHEC of a Summer is held during the month of June with the goal of encouraging future health care professionals to practice in rural and under-served communities, according to the website for Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center.
It allows qualifying high school students to spend 15 days job shadowing health care professionals in a variety of hospital departments, including ones they often don't realize interest them.
That's what happened in Hulsey's case. He's working alongside emergency room doctors and registered nurses today because of the good experience he had in the same setting last year.
"I never thought I would enjoy working in ER," he said.
Husley said he is also following the advice of operating room nurse who encouraged him to get his foot in the door with an entry-level position and "work my way up the ladder."
Hulsey starts nursing school at Northwestern State University in the fall and plans to work through college at Rapides and a couple years after to help pay for medical school. His goal now is to become a trauma surgeon like the ones he saw in action while at AHEC.
Theresa Hood, the hospital's health educator, said staff, including several current directors at the hospital, went through AHEC programs as youth.
The summer program is going on at a number of hospitals throughout the state of Louisiana this year. It is a state-accredited elective course, for which students earn high school credit.
This year, there are 36 area students participating in the program at three local hospitals.
"I've just been interested in health care my entire life and saw this as an opportunity," said Michael Hirchak, a senior at Holy Savior Menard High School in Alexandria.
Dressed in purple scrubs, Hirchak and Menard student Jon Scalfano talked about their morning in labor and delivery, where they had just watched doctors administer an epidural steroid injection.
After clinical rotations in the morning, they were to join other students for a lesson in stitching wounds during a suture clinic. Both teenagers said they had learned a lot already.
"There's way more behind the scenes (work) than you an imagine," Hirchak said.