JAN. 15, 2016 – “I plan to become a physical therapist… a registered nurse… a dentist… a doctor.” Multiple voices, all confident about their future, are all students in the HFM New Visions Health Careers program.
The concentrated one-year program for high school seniors immerses students interested in the world of medical and health related professions, not just in classroom theory, but in real-life participation at Gloversville’s Nathan Littauer Hospital.
“It’s not a field trip, but an actual clinical rotation that allows our students to sample 20 different sections of a working hospital,” instructor Erika Bucenec said. “We spend one day a week at HFM Career and Technical Center for academic studies, but the rest of the week the students are learning from professionals in the pharmacy, the operating room, intensive care, respiratory therapy, radiology and other areas.”
Students begin the year studying anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology and medical ethics for two months in a classroom provided by the hospital, preparing them for their clinical rotation.
“The medical coursework is an overview, of course, but gives them a level of knowledge to help them fit in more smoothly at the hospital, to understand the language and grasp concepts more easily,” Bucenec explains. “We want to ensure they walk in with a level of confidence and professionalism that allows them to participate in the activities of each department.”
Actual medical practice is beyond the scope of the students, but they assist nurses and technicians in different ways, and witness best practices and professional skills in action daily.
“A student in the emergency room has access and exposure to real life crisis. If he or she wants to enter a health-related profession, this is a taste of the reality in those careers,” Bucenec said.
The clinical rotation gives students an opportunity to sample a wide range of practice, and helps them make some important decisions. A student originally set on becoming a nurse may find that physical therapy matches his or her career goals better after experiencing both. According to Bucenec, nearly 75 percent of students change their mind about what aspect of health care they want to pursue as a career.
New Visions’ rigorous program provides more than just workplace experience. Students earn three college credits through an articulation agreement with Fulton-Montgomery Community College for its medical terminology course. They can also earn three college credits for the English 12 course they complete on their classroom day each week at HFM. Social Studies 12 (Participation in Government and Economics) is also integrated into the New Visions curriculum to give students a broad learning experience.
Besides Nathan Littauer, the program has established relationships with area dentists, chiropractors, St. Mary’s Hospital Pediatrics Health Center and Conover Park in Glenville. Bucenec said she is developing a relationship with Lexington Center to provide a rotation for students there.
“It would offer an experience working with a different population of people who need medical care,” she explained.
New Visions is witnessing tremendous growth in enrollment. In 2013, a single class of 12 students participated in the program. This year, 33 students make up two sections of the program, meaning Bucenec now oversees a morning and afternoon rotation at the hospital.
According to Bucenec, Nathan Littauer’ CEO Laurence Kelly was extremely receptive to the students learning in the hospital and accommodated the increased enrollment by allowing the program to expand to two sections.
“Mr. Kelly helped us reach out to all departments to set up amazing opportunities for the students. The hospital and all our participating practices have been welcoming and gracious hosts,” she says.
Ellis plans to pursue a career as a dentist.In January, Bucenec and several students make the rounds at HFM component high schools, talking about the program and recruiting future students. Enrollment is competitive, requiring students who wish to enroll to meet specific academic requirements (including an 85% overall average along with three years of science and math) in addition to a written essay, an interview and recommendations from two teachers and a guidance counselor.
“We want students who bring genuine interest and maturity to New Visions. They willingly forego an easy senior year to take on a challenging program,” Bucenec said. “But they get the privilege of in-depth exposure to a working hospital, something they typically wouldn’t see until their third year in college.
Bucenec knows the program is equipping her students to succeed at college. She points to past New Visions students who were very involved, top athletes and student leaders at their high school. Several were named valedictorians of their class.
“One former New Vision student who graduated in 2012 became a radiology technician. Right now she’s finishing her bachelor’s degree and plans to go on to become a physicians’ assistant. That’s the kind of story we hear repeatedly,” Bucenec said.
To learn more about the New Visions Health Careers or other Career and Technical programs, contact Director Jay DeTraglia at (518) 736-4330.