For the first time ever Franklin County Technical School Health Technology students will participate in a unique health care educational program at Baystate Franklin Medical Center this summer.
Starting in July, juniors Morgan Gradie of Colrain and Khylar Hughes of Ashfield will be among a group of up to 15 area students who will participate in the hospital’s Student Ambassador Program. The program introduces students to health care careers, including nursing, radiology, cardiopulmonary, oncology, family practice, wound care, neurology, clinical engineering, nutrition, rehabilitation, pharmacy, endoscopy, and surgery.
The six week program pairs each student with a mentor who will guide them through a day at Baystate Franklin. Students can be assigned to participate in up to six different departments through the course of the program, as well as observe a surgical procedure.
According to the Baystate Franklin Medical Center description of the program a staff mentor “will offer encouragement, help the student to grow, and oversee appropriate student volunteer assignments within the staff member’s work unit.”
“This is a valuable program because students get the opportunity to work with professionals in a hospital setting,” said FCTS Health Technology instructor Gretchen Werle. “They’ll see what it’s like to work in a variety of careers. It will help them with future career decision-making by going through this six week program.”
Gradie and Hughes were both surprised and honored to be selected for the program.
“There’s never been a student from Franklin County Tech to do this,” Hughes said. “I’m very happy that I was selected.”
Gradie said she applied for the ambassadorship because she wants to become a registered nurse and work in a hospital.
“I hope to learn about how different people react in different circumstances,” she said. “Later when I get a job I’ll know how to act with people in different situations.”
All students admitted to the program had to apply and selected candidates were then interviewed. The program runs Tuesdays and Thursdays from July 12 through August 18, with an orientation on July 7. Following the program there is a career night and a graduation.
Hughes said she is looking forward to experiencing what it’s like to work firsthand in the health care field. Her top choices of departments to participate in were medical/surgery, emergency room, radiology, and obstetrics.
“You hear about what it’s like to work in the field, but you don’t know what it’s actually like,” Hughes said. “I’m really excited to see a birth or surgery.”
FCTS Health Technology students do get practical health care experience as part of their curriculum. For this reason, Hughes felt they have a leg up on other students.
“We’re a lot more prepared than other students,” she said. “We have hands-on experience. We go to job sites; we do clinicals.”
Because of what they learned in FCTS Business instructor Raye Young’s Career Enhancement class, Gradie added that she and Hughes also presented themselves in a professional manner to Baystate Franklin administrators.
“We were the only ones to come in with our resumes when we did the interviews,” she said.
According to Werle, Hughes and Gradie were excellent candidates for the Student Ambassador Program because of the health care experience they have already gained in the FCTS Health Technology program.
“They have so much background going to health care settings,” she said. “I’m happy that the interviewer recognized their potential and chose them. I think it’s a great fit for our program and the Ambassador program. The hospital calls it a mini-medical school. I hope it’s something our kids can get into every year.”