Tuesday, August 5, 2008

BAMC and Smestad team up to give students insights

Kit Smestad, left, B-W High School guidance counselor, took a course through WITC over the summer familiarizing herself with many aspects of the medical field at Baldwin Area Medical Center. Trudy Achterhof is BAMC's Human Resource Director.

A credit class through WITC taken over the summer by B-W High School guidance counselor Kit Smestad at Baldwin Area Medical Center has given her insight into medically related fields which will help her advise kids about them.

Smestad spent time over the summer in 16 separate areas at BAMC to gain knowledge about each of the areas and the qualifications needed for each.

"Now I have a better idea how to advise kids and can make them aware of different opportunities in the medical field," said Smestad. "It's not to tell them what to do but to give them information so they can decide what to do."

Smestad worked with BAMC Human Resources Director Trudy Achterhof to set up the course. Over the summer Smestad was able to spent time in departments or areas including: surgery, risk management, infection control, diabetes control; respiratory therapy, clinic, social services, lab, radiology, ER, OB and scheduling and registration.

Achterhof said that because BAMC is a smaller facility Smestad was better able to see the whole of the operation, rather than at a large medical facility which has thousands of employees spread across hundreds of areas. She added that the 16 areas visited by Smestad were probably three-quarters of the areas at BAMC. "It made it more manageable for Kit," said Achterhof.

Smestad said the course, practically speaking, involved spending time in each of the departments, speaking to the people in them "and finding out what they do." She also discussed schools that educate students in their areas. The connections she made with employees also provides Smestad with a contact person for a student if they have questions in that area.

"The great thing about health care is there are many options and the training varies from on-the-job to being a doctor," said Smestad.

"That's the message we try to send when we go to schools," added Achterhof, "there are many options." She said BAMC puts lots of energy into recruiting and working on partnerships with schools because of the shortage of health care workers. "We try to make ourselves available to their school programs and to be speakers and participate in their school programs and in interview days as a way of saying we care about students who want to advance themselves and help them achieve their goals in health care." Achterhof said

BAMC has between 20 and 25 students yearly from WITC and CVTC who do clinical rotations. She said that provides a pool of resources from which the hospital may recruit in the future. "Many people prefer to be in a small [hospital] environment," said Achterhof. BAMC also offers multiple rotations, she added, with nursing a great example. A nurse can be trained in four or five areas at BAMC, while at a large facility a nurse would work in only one area. "People who come here want the diversity and variety they get."

BAMC also offers a program called "Me and my shadow" for high school students to shadow a health care practitioner in an area of their interest, said Achterhof. "In surgery, for example, a student may get achance to be in surgery."