Hoping graduates will want to return to work in their hometowns
TONASKET – Tonasket and Oroville High Schools have partnered with North Valley Hospital (NVH) to provide career exploration opportunities to students.
“We began the project Feb. 18, and will be alternating weeks with Oroville and Tonasket to have four or five students here,” said Sarah Grooms of NVH. “Our goal is to have kids get their education and move back here.”
Grooms said she has been working with Kristi Hutchins at THS and Oroville High School Principal Kristin Sarmiento in a collaborative effort to provide students with knowledge of what the hospital district has to offer.
“All thirty-plus students who have expressed a desire to be in our medical cohort will be guaranteed at least one job shadow; likely more,” said Tonasket High School Principal Jeff Hardesty.
Grooms said the every department in the hospital was open to job shadowing.
“Kids can choose their top three favorite departments in the hospital to visit on career day,” said Grooms. “We hope to have one student per department for one-on-one training.”
The first five THS students to job shadow last week were placed in/with surgery, a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant), a nurse, a dietician and radiology.
After the students spent the morning in their selected departments, the hospital provided lunch and an opportunity for the students to debrief about their experience with the person they were job shadowing.
“It’s great to provide young adults with this opportunity,” said NVH CEO Mike Zwicker. “Like they say, ‘Grow our own at home.’ They are the future.”
Grooms said a Tonasket student asked to shadow someone in the surgical department.
“We got the permission, and told her she needed to be here at 6:45 a.m., She comes bouncing in with a grin from ear to ear and was so grateful for the opportunity to do this. She thanked us over and over again.”
“The students are exuberant about the opportunity and they talk about what they’ve seen and how much they love it,” said Zwicker. “It’s very rewarding.”
“The kids are absolutely loving the program,” Sarmiento said. “Our intention is to get as many students as possible exposed to the many different career opportunities that NVH has to offer.”
Sarmiento said the first round of students to job shadow “would rather continue to be the only students that get to go. They enjoyed their time at NVH so much that they cannot wait to go back.
“In order to try to be fair I have stated that students may not return to the same program area that they previously attended,” said Sarmiento.
“This is a custom fitting to students’ personal career goals,” said Hardesty. “We have worked to have a reflection component and future planning steps at the conclusion of this experience.”
Sarmiento said OHS had a job shadow requirement built into their advisory class in the past, as well as a Junior/Senior transition class that required job shadowing for 40 minutes a day during the second semester after the beginning of the school year was spent on resume writing and mock interviews.
“We are trying to rotate that class so it is offered every other year,” Sarmiento said.
Hardesty said the school would begin to build other career cohorts “once we feel a quality process has been developed.”
Sarmiento said placing students into more intern/apprenticeship programs is a major goal of OHS.
“We have had a lot of success in the past with this and my hope is that we can soon branch out into the Criminal Justice field and incorporate the many unique opportunities that living in a border town has to offer.”
Sarmiento said the area is “surrounded by law enforcement” agencies, including local police, Sheriff and State Patrol as well as Customs, Immigration, Border Patrol and Fish and Game.
“There are so many areas that could be branched out of the Criminal Justice and we really want to create a STEM program that could possibly fit into our College in the High School courses,” said Sarmiento, “but more importantly get kids excited about those Science, Technology, Engineering and Math courses. A CSI-style class is in our sights.”
Bob Ashmore, GEAR UP Director responsible for coordinating Tonasket’s efforts to develop career and college exploration in the STEM fields said a Healthcare Career Exploration Enrichment class to be offered mid-April will include Healthcare STEM professionals coming to the high school to share with students their journey from high schools to college to career. Students will also be eligible to attend summer opportunities in the Healthcare exploration field.
“The feedback so far from students is that they think this is an amazing program. Students are getting up close and personalized experiential opportunities to get a feel for what these careers are like,” said Ashmore. “As staff we are thrilled to see students getting these kind of valuable experiences.”
Ashmore said students needed to passing all classes, or have an approved Plan of Improvement to participate in this volunteer participation program, which serves as a powerful motivator for them to do their best throughout the year.
Ashmore said Tonasket has begun building a Careers in Construction cohort, and expected to see it serving students later this year.
“After that, we are looking at Small Business Development, and Accounting and Finance,” said Ashmore, adding, “These programs cannot become reality for students without our community partners like NVH. We are grateful for their support and collaboration.”