By Capt. Rebecca Newton, Fort Drum MEDDAC Public Affairs Officer May 6, 2013
MEDDAC officials recently welcomed today's students and tomorrow's medical professionals through its doors during a two-day job shadow. Nine high school seniors from Indian River Central School District with an interest in the nursing, physical therapy, pediatrician and physician fields participated in the shadow April 24 and 25.
Students involved in job shadows are required to successfully take Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-certified training and testing before their visits. During the shadows, students are permitted to observe MEDDAC personnel involved in routine health care-related duties.
All supporting sections are responsible for providing a representative for the student to shadow who will be able and willing to discuss pertinent aspects of the career field.
This includes position requirements, routine duties and answers to any questions that students may voice.
Job shadows are open to any interested school district in the local area. They are arranged through the school-to-work coordinator and MEDDAC Public Affairs Office.
With national shortages in the medical professions, school job shadows are one way USA MEDDAC - Fort Drum can assist with potential recruitment into those professions.
"It is a real privilege to have students from Indian River High School shadowing our health care professionals this week," said Col. Mark A. Thompson, MEDDAC commander. "We view it as a program that allows us to help serve the community in sharing our expertise and experience with high school-age students who are the point in their lives to really start planning for their future. Hopefully, the time we share with them will allow them to make informed decisions on potential positions within the health care field.
"In addition, the Fort Drum MEDDAC recruits and hires many different types of health care providers from our local community to help care for Fort Drum Soldiers and their Families," he added. "This program allows us to help 'build the bench' locally for the future."
MEDDAC's participation provides firsthand exposure to medical fields and careers, which helps students better decide what they want to pursue in their future educational goals and careers.
"Several of our high school seniors have a goal of pursuing a career in the health care field," said Suanne M. Slate, Indian River's school-to-work coordinator. "However, many of them have had limited exposure to these careers; their only knowledge comes from what they have seen on TV or from their own personal experiences visiting their health care professional. Fort Drum has always been very gracious in hosting our student interns.
"The benefits of the job shadow program are numerous," she continued. "Students can see firsthand what an entire day within a particular occupation is like. This can serve to either confirm their goals or to let them know that maybe that particular career is not for them. The job shadow program also allows our students to interact with adults in a professional setting. We are very grateful to the personnel who spend their time with our students."
The best proof of the program's value comes from student follow-up comments.
"I learned a lot from my job shadow experience," said Maria Shimkus. "It really helped me decide that I do want to pursue becoming a pediatrician. Everyone was super nice and very friendly."
"My experience during my internship at Guthrie was unbelievable," said Zalakia Hughes. "I learned more than I could ever imagine during a two-day time period. To be able to have a glimpse of the life I am working hard to obtain in the near future was amazing.
"This experience allowed me to eliminate the uncertainty I had about the nursing field, and instead it overwhelmed me with joy and ambition," Zalakia added.
MEDDAC supports Indian River student job shadows each fall and spring.
Official encourage other school districts who want the opportunity for their high school seniors to contact the MEDDAC Public Affairs Office at 772-3051 for additional details and information on how to arrange student visits.