A program designed to give high school and college students the opportunity to explore a possible healthcare career is marking its 18th year of operation at Northern Inyo Healthcare District’s Rural Health Clinic. With June graduations beginning, the RHC will be looking to fill positions for its five-member Student Trainee Program.
“Our goal is to give the students a well-rounded experience working in the primary care healthcare field,” RHC’s Medical Director Dr. Stacey Brown explained. “That encompasses everything — beginning the visit by greeting the patients at the front desk, guiding them through the process to see their provider, supporting them through the maze of paperwork and insurance questions, and finally finishing the visit with scheduling a follow-up visit.”
For those who may pause at the idea of students in a healthcare setting, Dr. Brown assures patients that the students are trained to meet the same expectations of any NIHD employee. “The student trainees also are required to undergo education on privacy issues and the laws that apply to privacy,” he said.
Dr. Brown said the commitment shown by the students is humbling and they often display a real flexibility when it comes to scheduling for the busy six-day-a-week clinic.
For student trainees Ashlynn David and Keirsten Andersen, the program has provided a wealth of experience.
“As far as actual medical knowledge goes, I am learning so much just by being in a clinical environment,” David, a BUHS Senior, said.
Andersen, a second-year UCLA student, said working at the RHC gave her an unparalleled view of the daily lives of healthcare professionals, and that allowed her to consider which role and associated responsibilities best fit her personality and lifestyle preferences.
“It also introduced me to medical professions I did not know much about previously, such as Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants,” Andersen said. “Additionally, I learned many real-world problem-solving skills. Moreover, the strong RHC team environment enhanced my communication, leadership, and collaborative skills, and has made me a better student and competitive applicant in my college career.”
Both young women said they intend to seek healthcare careers. “Seeing the tangible difference the dedicated RHC providers make in their patients’ lives inspired me to pursue a career which allows me to give back to my community in the same way,” Andersen said.
David couldn’t agree more. “I love to help people, and I think the medical field needs more people who are in it for the right reasons,” she said.
To date, the Student Trainee Program has been successful with roughly 50 percent who pass through actually entering a healthcare-related career.
Jannalyn Lawrence, RN, who helps Brown and RHC Administrative Director Dan David oversee the program, was once a Student Trainee herself.
“It was a great experience,” Lawrence smiles, recalling those days. “I answered phones and scheduled appointments, stocked exam rooms, and had the opportunity to shadow nurses and providers. It was my interaction with the nurses and providers that inspired me to pursue a nursing degree,” Lawrence said. “They continued to provide encouragement and support throughout my nursing school journey, and I always hoped I’d have the chance to return to RHC.”
Another former Student Trainee is Jessica Nott, LVN, who also works at NIHD. “As a shy high school student, it helped me develop organizational skills, gain confidence in my people skills, and learn so much valuable information about healthcare and medical terminology,” Nott said.
What would Nott tell students who may be interested in the program? “The skills they learn are transferable to other professions. The program helps develop professional qualities that will be of use later on in life,” Nott said. “Healthcare is a great field to work in, and learning the workflow and processes early on is a great experience.”
Ashlynn David said the program is the perfect place for students to start if they are at all thinking about pursuing a medical career. “It allows student employees to gain medical knowledge, interact with patients and form long-lasting relationships,” she said. “I would strongly recommend this program to anyone who is interested.”
For Keirsten Andersen, it’s a one-of-a-kind program. “After two years at UCLA, I have not come across any opportunities which allow students similar access to physicians, patients, and clinical settings,” she said. “The truly unique, real-world experiences the student trainee program provides has the ability to inform one’s career goals much more accurately than any amount of career research – especially during the crucial high school years of deciding if/where to attend college and what to study.”
Andersen continued, speaking directly to her fellow students: “If you are unsure if a career in healthcare is right for you, one surefire way to find out is to join the supportive, fun, and passionate RHC team and experience what a multitude of healthcare professions look like for yourself.”
Students interested in applying for the Student Trainee Program should visit the “Employment” section of the Northern Inyo Healthcare District website, www.NIH.org. Applications are due no later than June 14 at 3 p.m.