After spending two years in the Teen Volunteer Program at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, North Moore High School senior Stephanie Phillips is now sure that she wants a career in health care. One of her jobs this summer involved delivering patient mail.
PINEHURST – If Stephanie Phillips ever had any doubts about making a career out of health care, she doesn’t anymore.
The 17-year-old senior at North Moore High School spent the summer in the Teen Volunteer Program at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, and she loved it. When she enters college at either Methodist or Campbell University next fall, she'll be looking at a major aimed at her goal of becoming a physician assistant.
“I loved the environment and thought it was a great learning experience,” Phillips says about her volunteer work. “It’s given me a great idea of what (a career in health care) would be like.”
There has been an organized teen program at Moore Regional since the mid-1970s. In 1975, 16 teens were recognized for their volunteer service to the hospital. By the following year, the number had tripled.
An outgrowth of the traditional Candystripers program for young women, the current Teen Volunteer Program accepts boys, too. But instead of the pink-stripped pinafores of their female counterparts, the guys report to work wearing white lab coats.
The 43 young people (nine boys and 34 girls) taking part in Moore Regional’s nine-week Teen Volunteer Program this summer provided a variety of services to 34 different departments. From Corporate Education and Health Information Management to various nursing units and the Reid Heart Center, they stocked supplies, typed and filed, escorted visitors, helped transport patients and delivered patient mail, contributing more than 3,000 hours to their community’s hospital.
The employees in the participating departments reciprocated by sharing their knowledge and professional experience with the young volunteers. “The department is often willing to mentor the young person in the field of health care,” says MRH Volunteer Services Manager Jean Clark.
While volunteer hours fulfill requirements for high school clubs and college and university applications, exposure to the health care environment is still the most common reason that kids volunteer, according to Clark.
“It’s more and more about health careers, because guidance counselors are making that connection,” she says.
This past summer, Clark was assisted in the management of Moore Regional’s teen program by UNC-Chapel Hill graduate Elysia Tegui-in. As Teen Volunteer coordinator, Tegui-in was impressed by the energy of the participating young people and the cooperation of participating FirstHealth personnel.
“I think it’s really cool,” she says.
During a recent 2011 session-ending recognition program, every teen received a certificate of participation. Twenty-nine of the young volunteers got pins noting 50 hours of volunteer service while 11 got 100-hour pins. One teen earned a 200-hour pin, and another was recognized for 300 hours of service.
One teen had contributed 500 hours.
Most of the 43 were first-year volunteers, but it was the second year of service for seven, the third for one and the fourth for two.
It was the second summer for Stephanie Phillips, who says she not only learned a lot about health care but performed a valuable community service while still having time for summer fun and her part-time job at the Carthage Subway. She admits to having been “kind of skeptical” at the very beginning, because she thought she would be dealing with an everyday commitment that would take up all of her precious summer vacation.
Her one-day-a-week assignment at the hospital worked out just fine, however.
“I thought it was perfect,” she says. “I did something productive with my summer, but was still able to have fun as well.”
The Volunteer Services staff at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital will begin accepting names for the 2012 Teen Volunteer program early next year, Interested teens must be at least 13 years old and have completed the eighth grade to be eligible. Students interested in more information about volunteering next summer should contact the guidance office at their respective school or Moore Regional’s Volunteer Services office at 715-1266. Participation is first-come, first-served, and the program fills up quickly.