- Lenoir County Public Schools
Students@Work connects career interests to hospital jobs
Ten eighth graders from E.B. Frink Middle School who have an interest in health-care careers heard from the professionals Friday when UNC Lenoir Health Care hosted Students@Work.
“The purpose of today is really just to talk to them about careers other than nursing and being a doctor. Those are really important. I’m a registered nurse myself, but we’re here to let them know there’s a lot more,” said Lauren Ginn, education specialist in UNC Lenoir’s staff development department and Students@Work coordinator.
“You can work with computers in IT or you can be in clinical engineering and work on equipment and still have an impact on the patient. We’re all here for the good of the patient.”
With hundreds of job titles in the hospital’s employee rolls, fitting a student’s interest and educational aspirations to a hospital-based health-care career isn’t that difficult. Opening their eyes to the possibilities, however, is a process that’s best begun early.
UNC Lenoir Health Care has been an active partner for years in LCPS’s job shadowing opportunities, where high school students in the Career and Technical Education program, spend time in the workplace and making connections with career professionals. Ginn sees Students@Work, which the hospital has been doing for four years, as a warm-up exercise.
“We do job shadowing with our high school students because they’re at that point where they have to made a decision,” she said. “In exposing what we have here to middle school students, our biggest goal is to give them some ideas at an early age. That way, when they go to high school, they kind of know what educational track they need to take.”
Frink STEM teacher Katie Martin, who accompanied the students, agreed that earlier is better. “Especially with all the CTE opportunities we have here in high school, it’s really important for middle school students to start finding out what they want to do and what they don’t want to do,” she said. “It helps them find their path. College might be right for some, but not others and there’s a lot they can do in high school to get where they need to go.”
In visiting the hospital’s clinical engineering department, physical therapy, radiology and the lab, students got to see multiple job opportunities even within individual departments. Physical therapy employs licensed professionals with advanced degrees, bachelor’s degrees and associate degrees and non-licensed workers who are high school graduates with on-the-job training. The lab itself contains multiple departments – hematology, microbiology and others – and radiology encompasses X-ray, CT scans and other diagnostic tools.
“I keep our primary departments the same because each department they’re going offers a wide range of careers within those departments,” Ginn said of the Students@Work agenda. “They’re exposed to a lot and it seems to be the most popular areas with the students.”
Statewide, the 2020 Students@Work initiative included 280 employers and approximately 40,000 students. It is a joint initiative between the nonprofit North Carolina Business Committee for Education and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
Kalyn Brock, an eighth grader at E.B. Frink Middle School, traverses an obstacle course in UNC Lenoir Health Care’s outpatient physical therapy department with Bre McMahon-Hare during Students@Work on Thursday. The Kinston hospital hosted 10 students from Frink who are interested in health-care careers for Students@Work.