Program Helps Teens Explore Health Care

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"Volunteering is about taking part in the world -- no matter what the age -- and giving back to the community that is there for us each day," said Payson Regional Medical Center's Volunteen Director Lynn Sommars. "It's about making the planet a better place to live and, believe it or not, any small step helps."

PRMC offers a wide variety of opportunities for all ages. A teen volunteer is one who is between the ages of 16 and 18.

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Volunteens taking part in the Payson Regional Medical Center's Volunteer Program are Steven Montoya, Kym Figaro, Essence Reidy and Meha Sharma.

Although Payson Regional Medical Center does not allow a shadowing program, PRMC does recognize the need to provide learning opportunities for young adults.

The volunteen program offers opportunities for career exposure in the health care profession. Sommars interviews and places students according to noted career goals and interests.

Volunteens are utilized to assist staff members throughout the hospital.

"Our volunteen application will capture an individual's areas of interest, which will help with placement," Sommars explained.

"Our volunteens add a personal touch to help provide comfort to patients and family members, as well as provide service and support to hospital staff."

It is not necessary to have a specific talent. Jobs can include collating for mailings and answering phones -- something everyone can do. Some of the student volunteers have even gone on to pursue medical careers.

There are four young people participating in the program this semester. Two are with the health occupations club at Payson High School and two are students at the Payson Center for Success.

Meha Sharma, a junior at PHS, started volunteering at the PRMC in February. She hopes to become a pharmacist.

While she is not allowed to work in the pharmacy because of her age, she has had the opportunity to work with the infection control department dealing with forms and other paperwork.

This summer she will continue exploring her career path by participating in a colon cancer research project at Emery School of Medicine in Georgia and coming back to PRMC to work in the out patient unit.

Kerry Cassens is her supervisor at the hospital and allowed her to sit in on a class for doctors about hand washing and sanitization. That was one of the most interesting experiences she has had so far.

"It is a great way to learn new things every day and get experience in the environment in which you'll be working. It is also a good way to give back to the community," she said.

Junior Steven Montoya started with the volunteen program in March. He said he hopes to be either a physician's assistant or physician in the future. He just recently completed his Certified Nursing Assistant training with Gila Community College and will take his certification test in June.

During the time he has been with the volunteen program, Montoya has worked in the med-surg unit providing comfort care for patients, answering call lights, taking them water and visiting with them.

"Talking with people is what I enjoy most," Montoya said.

He will be moving to the Phoenix area this summer and hopes to continue working in the medical field.

Essence Reidy is a freshman at Payson Center for Success. She has been with the program since March, working in both med-surg (medical-surgical unit) and the emergency room. Her tasks in med-surg include answering call lights, taking water to the patients and providing service. In the ER she makes beds and comforts patients, she said.

Reidy hopes to pursue a career as a neonatal nurse.

"It's different every day," she said.

Reidy said she plans to continue with the volunteen program through the summer.

Kym Figaro, a junior at PCS, wants to be a pediatrician. Working with the volunteen program she has helped in both the med-surg unit and the ER. She has only been with the program about six weeks, but plans to continue with it this summer.

Financial assistance from the Mogollon Health Alliance and the Eastern Arizona Health Education Centers to both PRMC and the school district makes the program possible.

Young people from 16 to 18 interested in the volunteen program this summer can call Sommars at (928) 472-1256 to learn more.

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