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Moore Regional’s Medical Explorers look at health care careers

| Date Posted: 5/3/2010

Moore Regional’s Medical Explorers look at health care careers

PINEHURST – These are typical high school kids in every way. They are social creatures who obviously enjoy being in the company of other high school kids, they communicate (very rapidly) by text, and they can zero in on a table of snacks in less time than it takes to say “Reece’s Pieces.”

Medical Explorers Post 897
Members of Medical Explorers Post 897 at Moore Regional Hospital donned scrubs and caps for a tour of the hospital’s Operating Room suite.

However, these young people differ from many of their peers in that they have already begun to think seriously about careers. Each is interested in health care.

As members of Medical Explorers Post 897 at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, these Pinecrest, Union Pines, O’Neal School and home-schooled students meet monthly to learn about health care and the various career opportunities that are available to them in the field – both at their local hospital and in health care in general.

“They’re excited about the program,” says Tom Kane, R.N., administrative director of Moore Regional Surgical Services. “They certainly want to learn about the health care professions and opportunities that are out there for them.”

Kane is one of four FirstHealth employees who serve as advisers for the group. The others are Marta Braun-Kane, R.N., of FirstHealth Home Care; Deana Kearns, R.N., of MRH Clinical Practice/Professional Development; and Betsy Thomas, R.N., of Waldrip ICU.

When the local Boy Scout organization first approached FirstHealth about starting a program at the hospital, Braun-Kane took the lead in learning what was involved. She also approached FirstHealth’s administration about the idea and found enthusiastic support – for several reasons.

“We need to expose young people to health care if we are going to have a sustainable workforce,” says FirstHealth Chief Operating Officer and Moore Regional President Stuart Voelpel. “And, having been very active in Scouting in my youth, I personally have a soft spot for Scouting. Having young people around also has an interesting effect on our staff. Young minds, ideas and questions help keep them excited and engaged.”

Braun-Kane was a Medical Explorer when she was in high school and says it affected her decision to go into health care. “I was able to explore all possibilities like physical therapy and a few others,” she says, “but I eventually made the decision to become a nurse.”

Although the Moore Regional Medical Explorers group began meeting just last fall, its members have already been exposed to a variety of health care situations. They toured the hospital’s Operating Room suite during one of their first meetings, and they discovered what is involved in becoming a physical therapist during a visit to the Outpatient Rehab Center at the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness-Pinehurst.

A pre-Christmas meeting allowed them to participate in a hospital-based community service project that had them wrapping and then delivering gifts for children in the hospital’s Meyer Pediatrics unit. A non-hospital meeting took them to Boles Funeral Home, where they learned about post-mortem care.

During a recent meeting, Teresa Sessoms, FirstHealth’s recruiting director, talked about the various job shadowing opportunities that are available to students and Volunteer Services manager Jean Clark spoke about the hospital’s summer Teen Volunteer Program – a good way to observe various career opportunities, she said.

Pinecrest High School student Angie Tagliarini says the Medical Explorers group has allowed her to experience how a hospital actually works as opposed to the fictional accounts she has seen on television. The high school sophomore, who serves as the group’s vice president for programs, also says that her participation in the program has brought her closer to her mother, a nurse who works for FirstHealth.

“We talk about it all the time,” she says.

Like Tagliarini and several other members, the group’s president, Pinecrest student Lauren Bonville, also has a parent who is a FirstHealth employee. Her mother, Susan Bonville, is director of Information System Operations.

“So I’ve been in the hospital since I was younger,” she says.

In addition to Tagliarini and Bonville, members of Moore Regional’s Medical Explorers Post are Pinecrest students Megan Thomas, Murphy Poplyk, Zach Pipkin, Ranier Agustin, Katie Friedman, Brianna Leija, Sophia Wimberley, Kendall Thomas (vice president-administration) and Nina Ondona (secretary); Union Pines students Drew Harner, Summer Harner, Alison Drake and Tristan Carlyle; Maxwell Winter, The O’Neal School; and home-schooled Shanna Davis.

“It’s a great organization, and now I can give back by helping future health care workers in the adviser role,” says Braun-Kane. “They’re a great bunch of young men and women, and I’m enjoying my time with them.”

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