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Students get firsthand hospital experience


Many aspiring healthcare professionals don’t get to watch doctors deliver a baby or perform a brain scan until medical school.

But Cleveland Metropolitan School District freshmen saw these things, and more, as part of the MetroHealth Scholars program.

The 35 students from James Ford Rhodes and Lincoln-West high schools spent one day each month of the school year shadowing doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, as well staff in the business and other sections at MetroHealth. They learned the ins and outs of a working at one of Cleveland's major hospital systems and the various career paths available in healthcare.

The scholars last week presented capstone projects that focused on a career they explored during the program. The students outlined what they learned about topics ranging from neurosurgery to ambulance operations. They also researched education requirements and salaries for healthcare careers they're interested in pursuing.

Desiree Valladares, a Lincoln-West student, had the chance to watch doctors perform a C-section during the program. She described suiting up in scrubs to enter the delivery room and the joy she felt when she first saw the baby.

“The nurse told me I was the first high school student to experience that,” Valladares said. “I saw everything. And I had a strong stomach, so it didn’t really bother me.”

Valladares said the program made her realize that she wanted to pursue a career in healthcare so she can change people’s lives.

Chantayne Petty, also a Lincoln-West student, said the program opened her eyes to the day-to-day operations of a hospital. Petty said she enjoyed watching doctors, nurses and other employees cooperate with one another.

Lincoln-West teacher Nick Maskey said his students visibly benefited from the program.

“I think I’ve seen them grow since they started this program,” Maskey said. “They’ve learned about their dream careers and what it takes to be part of a hospital and a team.”

MetroHealth’s CEO and president Dr. Akram Boutros has been supportive of the program from the start. Boutros took to Twitter to congratulate the scholars.

MetroHealth Scholars is one of many threads tying CMSD to the hospital system. MetroHealth also provides a mentoring program to Lincoln-West juniors and offers medical services to a number of CMSD schools.

Angee Shaker, CMSD’s executive director of portfolio engagement, said MetroHealth Scholars was a test run of a new school design, focused on science and health, that will be launched at Lincoln-West this year with MetroHealth as a partner. CMSD's Portfolio Office develops and assists new school models.