The Health Tech Program

When you were young, what sort of job did you imagine having when you grew up? How many times did you change your mind about your career path?  What did you do to gain experience in your intended field of study?

Imagine that you live in North Philadelphia, where opportunities seem slim and the idea of being a successful professional seems out of reach. Why should you make an effort if it might not even make a difference? You do well in school, but will it really ever amount to anything?

Now, imagine being a freshman in high school. A teacher recognizes your intelligence and talent, ability to perform under pressure, your promise. He offers you an opportunity to work at a nationally recognized local hospital, alongside the best researchers and physicians in a variety of specialties, learn about the medical field, learn about yourself … and even get paid. What would you do?

 For 241 students, they said “Yes! When do I start?”

 

For over 20th years, the Health Tech Program at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children has had the pleasure of fostering 241 high school students who have graduated from this nationally recognized School to Career Program. In partnership with Communities In Schools of Philadelphia, Inc. and The Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc., the Health Tech Program engages high school students from Olney High School in North Philadelphia to focus on achieving academic success, graduate from high school, and to be prepared for employment and post secondary education.

For some students, the idea that they can excel as a professional can seem daunting.  For example, in the City of Philadelphia only 58.7% of high school students graduate from high school. However, of the students who are accepted and participate in the Health Tech Program at St. Christopher’s Hospital, 98% graduate high school and 96% receive college acceptance.

 

Being a student in the Health Tech Program is a multifaceted opportunity.

  • Health Tech students receive one-on-one career training from healthcare professionals and are given broad exposure to the health care industry.
  • Students are placed in both clinical and nonclinical positions (such as administrative positions, building engineering, and client relation positions).
  • Each student is given two mentors, one who works with the students in the Career Awareness Program, and a second who works directly with the student in the department to develop the career interests and skills identified by the student.
  • Students are provided with life skills training seminars and ongoing social services support.

At the end of each school year, students are recognized and rewarded for their participation and dedication to their position. Graduating seniors are eligible to receive a portion of the $25,000 in scholarship funds donated by the Rudman Foundation, named for Kal and Lucille Rudman.   Scholarships are used by the students to subsidize their college education.  To date, the Rudmans have generously contributed over $400,000 to facilitate the continuation of educational success for Health Tech students.

 

This year, the Closing Ceremony for the Health Tech Program was held on Friday, June 15th at the Angelo M. DiGeorge Teaching Center at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.  At the ceremony, 40 students received Certificates of Completion, and 14 seniors graduated and are moving on to continue their education at regional colleges and universities, including:

  • Arcadia University
  • Bloomsburg University
  • Cedar Crest College
  • Community College of Philadelphia
  • Kutztown University
  • LaSalle University
  • Manor College
  • Millersville University
  • Penn State Abington
  • Shippensburg University

 

As a supporter of the Health Tech Program, the Board of Directors and staff of St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children join the program staff in congratulating the graduating seniors and continue to encourage the underclassmen to strive to make the most of their participation in the program and to succeed in everything they do.
Upward and Onward

A couple of this year’s graduating seniors took a few minutes to share their stories and experiences through the Health Tech Program. Read on to see what they’ve learned, how they’ve grown and what their future holds.

Meet Brieanna, a Senior at Olney Charter High School.

 

Department: Child Life

Child Life Specialists work at the bedside and in playrooms to help patients and their families have positive experiences during their hospital stays.   This department also provides emotional support for families and encourages optimum development.

A Day in the Life …

Brieanna did many different things in her position and visited every department in the hospital. She assisted the Child Life Specialists with their goal to keep the patients as comfortable as possible.  They calm kids by coloring, do medical play to teach patients about their illness and help them understand what is happening to them in a fun way, as well as coaching them to learn new tasks such as swallowing pills.

What does the future hold?

Brieanna plans to attend college next year and already has 4 acceptance letters (and awaiting a few more) and she has received 2 scholarships.  Brieanna will major in Psychology and Criminal Justice, at either Kutztown University or Penn State University.

What impact has your involvement with the Health Tech Program had on you?

“Before, I viewed a hospital as doctors, nurses and needles. I realized that there are so many other departments that impact lives and keep it going. Whatever department, whatever responsibilities, there is a lot to learn about that specific area. I learned different views, and to think outside of the box. I gained professionalism, responsibility, and work ethic.  I feel prepared to be in the real working world now.”

 

Meet Jazmine, a Senior at Olney Charter High School

Department: Emergency Department, prior years in Neurology and Audiology

A Day in the Life…

In her position, Jazmine was responsible for calling patients back to the examination rooms, taking weight and height measurements, transporting patients and families throughout the hospital to different departments for testing and appointments. Additionally, Jazmine had an “all hands on deck” approach to her position and would always be available to do whatever she could to help.

What does the future hold?

When Jazmine first started in neurology she wanted to be a neurosurgeon, but then began to think about what other opportunities there were that the program still gave her an opportunity to experience. Now she wants to be a family lawyer to help families like the ones she has met at St. Christopher’s.

What impact has your involvement with the Health Tech Program had on you?

“Not everyone who is 16 gets to experience what people with degrees do every day.  I am very appreciative for the opportunity and hands-on experience. This is a wonderful program and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to be a part of it.”

 

Continuing Success

As the Health Tech Program bids farewell to its seniors, we celebrate those who are on the rise and will continue to build on their experience and successes.

Meet Yesenia, a Junior at Olney Charter High School

Department: Short Procedure Unit

The Short Procedure Unit is where most procedures that do not require overnight hospital stays are performed.

A Day in the Life …

Among Yesenia’s daily responsibilities, she takes vital signs, assists nurses and speaks with patients and parents (often serving as a Spanish translator), cleans and stocks rooms, transports beds for patients, and escorts parents to recovery rooms

What does the future hold?

Yesenia says she will definitely participate in the program again next year as a senior.  After high school, she plans to enroll in pre-medical studies for her undergrad and then attend medical school to ultimately become an anesthesiologist.  She says that she had never considered the medical field before, but working side-by-side with physicians, anesthesiologists, and nurses that love what they do has challenged her to change her career goals.

 What impact has your involvement with the Health Tech Program had on you?

“This program definitely changed my life. I am grateful for the support of the community to keep the Health Tech Program alive at St. Chris. It can change other people just like it changed me.”