To better understand what health care careers are available in their own backyard, teachers from Nelson County Schools received a lesson from the caregivers at Flaget Memorial Hospital.
The goal of the Teacher Externship Program is to expose teachers to different career paths available in their community by touring and participating in an in-depth externship at a business of their choice.
“Our job was to give them a snapshot of all the different career options there are in health care, so the teachers, in turn, could go back into the classroom and be able to better counsel their students and have a broader knowledge base of all the businesses they visited,” said Jennifer Nolan, president, Flaget Memorial Hospital.
After touring all the businesses, teachers chose one industry to specialize in with a week-long externship. Nolan said three teachers spent three days during summer 2019 with Flaget Memorial Hospital leadership and employees for their in-depth externship.
Part of their externship included observing a surgery in the operating room, learning about radiation therapy at the CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center at Flaget and spending time in the labs exploring non-nursing clinical careers that don’t require a college degree.
“As a community hospital, it’s our responsibility to participate in these types of programs,” said Nolan. “The staff got excited and really liked to show off their pride for their careers and the hospital. It was a win-win.”
Spinning off the success of the Teacher Externship Program, and before the COVID-19 pandemic began, students who were accepted into the Backpack Program at Nelson County Schools also received an in-depth tour of Flaget Memorial Hospital. Kelsey Berryman, who was the Backpack Program leader at Cox’s Creek Elementary in fall 2019, said both programs have had an impact on teachers and students.
“We’ve been focused on the purpose of school and what it means to be a community, so we’ve been working on creating an education experience that is community-centered,” Berryman said. “Our schools are insular; we don’t really know what’s going on in the factories and hospital, so letting teachers be a part of where our students could end up was powerful.”
With the Backpack Program, students were instructed to design a few projects in collaboration with their student body and an industry of their choosing – they chose Flaget Memorial Hospital.
“Showing what opportunities exist in Nelson County was important,” Berryman said. “Most of our students didn’t know about the cancer center at Flaget. They had no idea that was even a possibility in Bardstown. Our students were really impacted by that.”
Because of COVID-19, the programs have been paused, but Nolan and Berryman, who now serves as director of innovation for Nelson County Schools, hope to move forward with both programs in the near future.