‘Volunteens’ survive pre-acceptance gauntlet as they pursue hopes of future medical careers

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AN INSIDER’S LOOK — Chandler Regional Medical Center nurse Sarah Cobb demos the hospital’s high-tech medical techology for Volunteen Megan Dye. — Noah Kutz for Wrangler News

Signing up for the summer Volunteen program at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center is easy. Getting accepted takes a bit of work: rigorous screening, letters of recommendation, interviews, two essays and a 3.5 grade-point average.

Even with those requirements, the hospital’s Volunteer Services Department just launched its 12th year of the program by hiring 92 teens out of the 347 who applied.

 

In all, since starting in 2006, more than 1,360 teens have been accepted, all hoping to learn about hospitals and health care. The Summer Volunteen program offers an in-depth learning and leadership opportunity for teens interested in the health care industry.

Many teens say they find the experience invaluable and enjoy making a positive impact on patients, staff and visitors. “We are dedicated to offering opportunities for these future leaders to serve,” said Lori Mercer, supervisor of volunteer services at Chandler Regional.

“We want to encourage them to learn about the variety of careers available in the medical field.”

This summer, the program runs from June 4 through the end of July. The 200 teens spend their summer gaining hands-on experience in the medical field and spend at least one day a week at the hospital.

They have the opportunity to work on research and creative projects, escort patients, perform administrative duties, work alongside staff who mentor them and more. The program is level-based, so the teens with more experience have first pick for available job areas in almost 100 departments.

Students also have access to educational sessions throughout the summer, such as discussions led by neurologists from Dignity Health’s Barrow Neurological Institute, plus information about hospital ethics, pathology, anesthesia, orthopedics, respiratory therapy and trauma care, coupled with tours through the labs, pharmacies and Chandler Regional’s Wound Healing Center.

Upon successful completion of the program, the teens receive a certificate, letter of recommendation and automatic acceptance to the 2019 program.

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