While some high school students are enjoying views of the beach for summer vacation, students from two Hempstead high schools will be spending a month on a hospital campus exploring potential opportunities in healthcare. In an effort to reach out to underserved communities, NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island has launched its Summer Mentoring program for a second season.
The intensive four-week program offers students an inside look at medical professions by allowing them to view procedures, trail nurses, and see other hospital staff at work. It was launched last year for students at Hempstead High School but was so popular that students from another area school, Evergreen Charter, joined the program.
The initiative, introduced by the hospital’s Nursing Department and Volunteer Services, seeks to give students a life-changing, mind-opening experience. First-year findings were presented at a national volunteer conference and were well received. Among its highlights: one student was accepted into Cornell University’s Cognitive Science Program through a Gates Scholarship, and two others are returning to the summer program for a second year.
“We’ve had students enter the program who thought they wanted to be doctors or nurses, but after seeing the inner workings of other healthcare professions, change their mind,” says LaShon Pitter, RNC, co-chair of the NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island Nurse Managers Council. “The program also allows students who think college is not for them to see jobs in areas that are in high demand, such as dietary, transport, and various other tech positions.”
To qualify, students age 16 to 18 are first screened by their high school guidance counselors. They then apply to NYU Langone’s Volunteer Services, which is an integral part of the program.
“Volunteerism is an often-overlooked access door for the underserved to gain a foothold in a healthcare career. Student volunteers gain invaluable exposure to the environment, culture, and professional careers at the heart of healthcare,” says E. Jean Zebroski, director of Volunteer Services. “Volunteerism functions as the social equalizer. Social, economic, and more subtle advantages are not factors in volunteer recruitment. It is about desire and the recognition that everyone has something to offer if given the opportunity.”
“It’s amazing to see these students absorb everything like a sponge,” says Jessica Kirk, RN, co-chair of the NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island Nurse Managers Council. “It is as rewarding to us as nurses as it is for them.”