Ninety-one Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students explored the world of hospital careers on Tuesday at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna.
Prior to the second annual hospital career day, students determined what areas of hospital jobs — diagnostic, therapeutic, medical information or environmental — they were interested in.
In the Denali Conference Room a station for each area was set up around the room for students to visit and talk to different employees in the various fields.
Betty Miller, a retired Skyview High School nurse who helped to make the event a reality, said one purpose of the event is to show students that working in the health sciences industry isn’t limited to nursing and doctoring.
Under diagnostic students can consider jobs in radiology and imagining. Medical information offers careers in areas like billing and coding. The environmental field provides jobs like chefs and electricians. Counseling and nursing fall under the therapeutic area.
Some students who attended the event are interested in jobs that are typically associated with hospitals like Jessie Mcnamara, a Skyview sophomore, who said she is considering studying nursing. Other students, like Kenai Alternative High School senior, Kelly Price, said she couldn’t handle a job that has to deal with “gushing blood” came to the event to explore other hospital career options such as a front desk assistant.
Along with speaking to employees to learn about various hospital jobs, every student went on a tour of the facility. The first stop was the lab where samples — most frequently blood — are analyzed to determine what someone is infected with.
From there students saw where the hospital’s servers are housed. To obtain an entry-level position in the technology side of hospital careers, students would need to obtain a two-year degree in computer technology.
Then the students were taken to the laundry room, which has a dirty side and a clean side and sees 2,000 – 2,500 pounds of laundry daily. A large washing machine folds some of the linens to keep up with demand.
The last department the students visited was respiratory care where employees work with patients of all ages dealing with breathing, heart and stress issues.
Ellena Gordeev, a Nikolaevsk School ninth grader, said she wasn’t expecting to find any health sciences fields she was interested in, but the respiratory department appealed to her. With entry level jobs requiring a two-year respiratory care degree, she’s excited about the viability pursuing a career in the area.
Kenai Alternative senior, Cameron Bobee, said he didn’t know there were so many different areas of hospital careers. He’s interested in becoming an emergency medical technician or a firefighter.
Laura Beeson, a Kenai Central High School guidance counselor, said she thinks there’s a lot of students, like Bobee, who don’t realize the variety of jobs available in the industry.
“When they think hospital, they think doctor, nurse or janitor,” she said.
She said many of the students say they want to get a job helping people and the event shows students the variety of ways to meet that goal as well as the tangibility of different career options.
Loretta Knudson-Spalding, KPBSD guidance assistant, said while the event is open to all students, counselors target tenth and eleventh graders, which is when they think students should begin thinking about post high school careers.
While the district doesn’t have stats for how many district students pursue health care careers, Knudson-Spalding said it is doing a better job of tracking those interests to help parents, teachers and staff plan classes and events, like hospital career day, to develop career goals.