CMSD NEWS BUREAU
The MetroHealth System will provide education, internships and mentoring to students from Lincoln-West High School in hopes of spurring the teenagers’ interest in health careers.
Students will begin the two-year program as juniors. The first group of 28 spent Tuesday morning at MetroHealth’s hospital campus, on the near West Side in the same neighborhood as Lincoln-West, hearing words of welcome and touring the facilities.
MetroHealth’s CEO, Dr. Akram Boutros, told the students how an experience in adolescence changed his life and how the new program might alter theirs.
Boutros said he had been invited to join a gang at age 15, when he was hit and seriously injured by a truck while riding a bicycle. A man in the next bed at the hospital spoke about the importance of choices in life. Hours later, the man was dead, but Boutros took his message to heart.
“I got to choose a different path; I think you guys are choosing a different path,” he said. “People tell you you can do anything. You absolutely can.”
Debbie Warman, MetroHealth’s vice president of human resources, sits on the board of a new Friends of Lincoln-West group. The graduate of CMSD’s former West Tech High School said MetroHealth wants to attract students to the medical field while giving back to the community and building on a partnership that already includes providing primary and preventive health care to students in a mobile unit sent to Lincoln-West.
More than 70 juniors applied for the new program. A committee made selections based on a minimum attendance record of 90 percent, as well as recommendations from teachers and counselors.
“We didn’t look at their GPAs, though most of them do have good GPAs,” said committee member Elizabeth Torres, who as the school’s site coordinator organizes community “wraparound” services tailored to students’ needs. “We picked kids we knew would stay with the program.”
Principal Irene Javier said the program will expand in the future to 40 students per class.
The juniors will attend monthly lectures by MetroHealth doctors on health care topics and careers. The summer after junior year, the students will be offered three-week internships at MetroHealth.
As seniors, students will meet monthly with mentors at the hospital. Mentors will help the students sharpen emotional, practical and social interaction skills.
During the tour Tuesday, the juniors visited parts of the hospital that included an operating room, the emergency room and an ambulance bay. Medical professionals spoke and answered questions about pay, hours and job satisfaction.
Raymond Salukombo stood close to each speaker and pressed for details. Walking one of the hospital corridors, he said was interested in becoming a physician but is now intrigued by the possibility of serving as a paramedic aboard a helicopter.
Raymond said he applied for the MetroHealth program because it is not enough to hear about career opportunities. He wants to observe.
“When you see it, you know whether you like it,” he said. “There are so many jobs out there, it’s hard to know what you want to do.”