August 1, 2014. A unique summer internship program at Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health has immersed 22 college and high school students in the world of health care while affording them a "real life" work experience. The students "graduate" Friday, August 8th in a special ceremony at the hospital.
The program, now in its third year, provides young people living in Jersey City, in addition to the children of hospital staff, a six-week paid internship in a specific hospital department, where they work under the direction of a dedicated manager.
Students were assigned at the beginning of the program to an individual department based, if possible, on their interests – including behavioral health, human resources, emergency department, emergency medical services, dietary, case management, pharmacy, patient access, speech pathology, dental staffing, same day surgery, physical therapy, operating room, physician practices, revenue management, public affairs and volunteer services. Additionally, they participate in weekly meetings with their peers to learn about other hospital services to broaden their experiences and future choices.
"It's been a fantastic opportunity for these young people to immerse themselves in the hospital environment, identify special interests and learn what it's like to be in the working world," said Lourdes Valdes, Manager of Employment/Training and Development at Jersey City Medical Center - Barnabas Health. "But, it's been a two-way street. The students learn and gain new experiences, while the hospital benefits from their hard work and enthusiasm."
The students appear to appreciate the opportunity.
"Working in the EMS department has been a new and challenging experience," said Fatima Hazoor, who is entering her senior year at Infinity Institute High School in Jersey City and hopes to work someday as a pediatric surgeon. "It has given me responsibility and helped prepare me better for the future."
Added Melany Pampalona, who works in nursing education, "I've fallen in love with the hospital environment over the past few weeks. The experience has allowed me to open my eyes to more job opportunities in the healthcare field."
The experience has also helped change some perceptions.
"I remember the reason I decided to go to nursing school was not only to help people, but to feel a better connection to the community around me," said Erica Gentile, who has spent her internship in behavioral health. "With a little more education now, I know attitudes towards mental health can move beyond finger pointing and laughing or fear. If everyone could take on the internship that I did, they would be enlightened."
Contact: Howard Matzner/Steven Clark