Students experience health science firsthand

Peninsula School District’s Health Sciences Internship is in its first year

Staff writerJuly 2, 2014 

Emily Sutton wants to be a neonatal nurse. As an infant, she herself was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“My parents are really thankful to my nurses,” said Sutton, a 17-year-old Gig Harbor High School student.

Now, she wants to be like the nurses that helped her. Last week, she job shadowed nurses at St. Anthony Hospital.

Sutton is part of a group of 15 high school students taking part in the Health Sciences Summer Internship. The group was chosen out of a field of 48 students.

The internship is a four-day, 40-hour program. The camp is free; all it costs students is four days of summer break.

The internship is set up as a roving class. On day one, students learned how to work in crisis situations like a paramedic at the Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One station. The next day, students job shadowed at St. Anthony Hospital.

The final two days were spent at Cottesmore of Life Care meeting with professionals ranging from social workers and occupational therapists to registered nurses.

Eighteen-year-old Kristia Lloyd, a Henderson Bay High School student, also wants to work in a neonatal intensive care unit. Her younger brother has spent time in and out of the hospital. She is also inspired by her 2-year-old son, Jesse.

“Kids are very important in my life,” Lloyd said.

It was the experience of the internship that Lloyd looked forward to most. She wanted to see everything that it had to offer. During the St. Anthony leg, she liked the experience of being in the thick of a working emergency room.

The internship is open to students with a wide range of interests. Those interests may not be specific to medic or surgeon.

Jessica Graham, 16, a Peninsula High School student, wants to be a forensic anthropologist. It’s a tough job that involves solving criminal cases when a victim’s body is decayed, burned or unrecognizable. She admits that she first heard of it on the television show ‘Bones,’ but the more she’s looked into it, the more she feels the call.

“I really want to be able to help the families (of victims) get closure,” she said.

Kristine Nyberg, the district’s Career and Technical Education advisor, said the internship is an investment.

“This community is the type where kids come back and work,” Nyberg said.

That came through in the way community members worked with students. Nyberg said all the community partners welcomed the chance to be involved.

Kopachuck teacher Joy Giovanini said students absorbing information is why she and several others in the district advocated for the program.

Giovanini is part of a committee at the district called the Health Science Community Partnership. Nyberg and the sponsors from each community partner have been meeting since October, along with GHHS principal Tom Leacy and school board president Harlan Gallinger.

The hope is that this year isn’t an outlier. Both Nyberg and Giovanini want to see the program as a recurring summer internship. For Nyberg, it is a way to keep students ahead of a health sciences “bottleneck” when applying for colleges. It’s an extra piece for a resume and possibly a chance to find a mentor in a chosen field.

For 16-year-old Peninsula student Matthew Jackson, the job shadow pulled back the curtain on a life in medicine. Jackson wants to be a spinal orthopedic surgeon. He watched a CT scan for a person with back problems.

Seeing the professionals interact with patients and each other made his day.

“It was cool watching them do what they went to school to do,” he said.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155 Twitter: @Gateway_Karen

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