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Healthcare Explorers offers hands-on learning
The new Healthcare Explorers program gives participants an opportunity to get hands on learning at the hospital.

A new program at Northside Hospital-Forsyth will give high schoolers a chance to get some experience in the healthcare industry.

The new Healthcare Explorers group is open to students in grades 10-12 that attend high school in Forsyth and Dawson counties. The program gives participants an opportunity to get hands on learning at the hospital. 

“The students are so enthusiastic, as well as our healthcare staff here at the hospital. Everyone is excited about it, to share and mentor the students,” said Carrie Hamilton, Geriatric Unit Clinical Pharmacist. “So many of them already know they want to go into healthcare.”

The group held its orientation in August and its first meeting in early-September. The first class let students check out the women’s center and O.R. services. 

“We’re trying to expose them to all different areas in the hospital,” said Unit Clinical Pharmacist Alison Thomas. “We do that by hands-on when appropriate. We try to do hands-on because kids like that. They sit and listen to lectures all day at school, so we try to give them something to stimulate them.”

Thomas said the program also gives students a chance to talk to professionals and ask them what career path brought them to their career. 

“I think it shows them career paths they may have never considered,” Hamilton said. “The students come and believe that in pharmacy for example …  that the only thing to be is a pharmacist, but we have pharmacy technicians that do so many high-level things for us.” 

Along with helping students, the new program is a benefit to Northside, which hopes to see some of those students as future employees.

“We’re a community hospital,” Hamilton said. “We’re able to be a part of these students’ career paths and to invest in them, invest in their families, to show them what they can be, and maybe consider things they hadn’t thought of, as well as hopefully coming back to work here and in their community.”

Though still in it’s infancy, the program is growing in popularity and making plans for its second year, including having older students mentor the younger. 

“We’re still in the planning phases for that,” Thomas said. “Our hope for the second year is to have students that are not graduating come back and maybe we get more in-depth in certain area; it ends up being more of an overview this year. Then perhaps, it’s fewer areas next year but we can do more in-depth.”