Quad Cities youth explore health care career opportunities

A live CPR demonstration, fake bullet wounds, a tourniquet, a working helicopter and more sparked an interest in the health care field for youth attending a career event at UnityPoint Health-Trinity, Rock Island. 

A group of 10 Quad Cities high school students had the opportunity Tuesday, July 26, to have the hands-on experience and ask questions of medical professionals during the second annual Health Care Exploration Camp. The event was hosted by Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences on the campus it shares with Trinity-Rock Island.

Trinity exploration
Rock Island Firefighters discuss and show the workings of an ambulance to the career exploration students. CREDIT NICHOLAS CAVE

“Nursing hasn’t always caught my eye but seeing different nurses (at work) definitely helped me reconsider because I’ve always been interested in radiology instead. So, I’m reconsidering my path,” said Rock Island High School junior Ntiruvakure Dinye, who attended with Lah Paw, also a Rock Island junior and a friend since childhood. 

Ms. Paw, added: “This is a great opportunity for students like me who don’t know if they want to be a nurse, a doctor, or any of that. This is a good opportunity for you to just explore.”

Trinity College of Nursing and other medical professionals offered students the chance to observe and sample different aspects of the medical field during the camp. Among the activities introducing them to the field included: a tourniquet station, a CPR demonstration, a decontamination shower, informal discussions with the Rock Island Fire Department personnel as well as a MedForce helicopter arriving on-site. 

“This program offers our students a great opportunity to see a day in the life of a nurse, radiographer, a med-lab scientist, and again working with passionate people who love the service that they provide,” Tracy Poelvoorde, the college’s chancellor, said. “They really love sharing that with students who show an interest.”

The Health Care Exploration Camp Participants listen to one of the MedForce personnel speak after they watched the helicopter land. CREDIT NICHOLAS CAVE

Outside the college, the Rock Island Fire Department had an ambulance and Engine 34 on display for the students. During the event, the group split up to learn about each of the vehicles’ functions and speak to the firefighters/paramedics about the job and their personal experiences. 

Ms. Paw, who heard about the event from her friend, said “As a child I really took interest in the medical field and in the future hopefully I’ll be working with patients. Talking with patients on a personal level, them knowing that they have a shoulder to depend on in their toughest time makes me want to be there for them.” 

When Ms. Dinye heard about the camp from a UnityPoint – Trinity nurse visiting her high school, she thought “Why not?” After learning the event was local and had the name recognition of Trinity behind it, she said she was more willing to attend. 

At the camp, Ms. Dinye got to work on a mannequin infant that resembled a baby right after birth. She said they “wiped it down, listened to its pulse, made sure the skin looked alright, and the crying was normal, and the pulse and ratings were all looking fine.” 

After the demonstrations, the teenager said “It’s super exciting seeing professionals … helping us learn how to take vitals, do CPR, and things like that.” 

Ms. Poelvoorde provided some insight about the healthcare and nursing shortages, saying “the Quad Cities is no different than any other city or state across the country.”

The chancellor added: “This health care exploration camp is a phenomenal way for us to connect with high school students who are interested in careers in health care and match them up with the very passionate healthcare providers at UnityPoint Health Trinity at our college and also our local emergency medical services.” 

The nursing college offers a program called EDGE, or Early Degree Guaranteed Entry, which allows juniors and seniors to be accepted into the nursing program before they graduate high school. It is available across many of the Quad Cities area high schools.

“We want to start out with juniors and seniors in high school because it was the quicker transition from high school to college,” said Ms. Poelvoorde. “We’re going to stairstep our way down, middle school, elementary school, and have a very different experience for them. Even just thinking about health care as an opportunity.”

As a student, Ms. Dinye said “If you have any opportunity to go out and do a hands-on experience, I would definitely push for it because you know you have nothing to lose… even if you don’t want to be (in this field). I would recommend it for people who don’t know what they want to do – it will just give you an insight on maybe ‘I want to go here or maybe not.’” 

Get the free QCBJ email newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the people, companies and issues that impact business in the  Quad Cities area.