Success & Impact

Saint Joseph’s Helps High School Students Explore a Future in Healthcare

In collaboration with the Lancaster Chamber, Saint Joseph’s helped high school students explore careers in healthcare during a hands-on event on Feb. 9.

Two high school students practice suturing on a fake arm during their visit to Saint Joseph’s Lancaster location on Feb. 9.

Two high school students practice suturing on a fake arm during their visit to Saint Joseph’s Lancaster location on Feb. 9.

by Kevin Gfeller, BS ’20

What do you want to be when you grow up? Children and young adults often cannot answer that question definitively. That is why Saint Joseph’s, in collaboration with the Lancaster Chamber, held a day-long event where high school students can learn and explore career paths in healthcare. 

Each month, as part of the Chamber’s “Discovering Paths” program, 150 high school students attend a career discovery or industry exploration-related learning experience, highlighting industries and businesses that are vital to Lancaster County’s economy and workforce development. These visits allow students to explore different career paths while engaging in hands-on activities and speaking with business professionals. On Feb. 9, the students rotated through 15 sessions at Saint Joseph’s Lancaster location, learning about various fields from surgical technology to radiography.

“It is the ability to be immersed in it, put your hands in it and understand the field,” says Bill Rhinier, assistant vice president of enrollment management, Lancaster. “The activities the students are doing in these sessions are very similar to what Saint Joseph’s students are doing. Ultimately, it is what they would do in their career.” 

One of those sessions focused on sonography. Maryglo Stroik, MHA, RDMS, RVT, RT (R), clinical instructor for diagnostic medical sonography, says many of the students did not understand the full breadth of being a sonographer and how it is not limited to fetal ultrasounds. 

“It is neat to hear students say, ‘Oh, I don’t just have to scan babies,’” says Stroik. “Instead they can focus on a certain aspect of sonography, like becoming an echocardiographer. I’ve had a couple of students even come up to me after the session and say, ‘I was really thinking about this as a career and I think I want to do this now.’”

Molly Crouser, director of events and partnerships for the Lancaster Chamber, says the exposure to various healthcare fields is critical. 

“Students cannot learn this in a traditional classroom,” says Crouser. “Everybody dissects a frog. But, there is a disconnect between that experiment and how it could apply to a healthcare career. Without a simulation lab, or a fake arm you can practice sutures on, students do not get these experiences.”

High school students get a tour of the Center for Excellence in Practice at Saint Joseph’s Lancaster location.

Student practices using a stethoscope on one of Saint Joseph’s lifelike nursing manikins.

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In addition to hands-on practice, as a part of the Discovering Paths program, each student is paired with a mentor to help guide them as they enter the workforce. One of those mentors is Aimée Deraco, chief executive officer of Brubaker Inc. She knows that by being a mentor, she is helping students become more successful young adults. 

“Getting involved with students at a younger age, but when they are still close enough to graduation to where they have to start making these decisions, is like an intervention,” says Deraco. “What do you really want to do? What are you going to be successful at? I’d probably say 60% of the time, these kids think they want to do something and it is not what they end up doing.” 

Another mentor, Tim Lapp, co-owner and chief executive officer of Lapp Electrical Service, Inc., witnessed first-hand how students might change their minds on a career path after being introduced to something new. His mentee has been thinking about pursuing a career in real estate. However, after visiting Saint Joseph’s, his mentee is now considering a path in medical device sales. 

“There are just so many different opportunities out there,” says Lapp. “Being able to mentor the next generation of leaders in our workforce is incredible.” 

While mentoring students is of chief importance, the Lancaster Chamber and Saint Joseph’s leaders are also excited about the residual effects of the “Discovering Paths” program. One of those effects is keeping intelligent young graduates in Lancaster County and giving back to the area where they grew up. 

“I think we are only starting to scratch the surface of how we can impact the community more than we ever have,” says Rhinier. “We are going to continue the partnership with the Chamber and look at other ways to connect with local healthcare networks. So, I’m excited.”