By Brent Baker, Peoria Pathways Coordinator

Across the country, communities are working to connect high school students to their careers of interest by creating internships. As you may imagine, connecting students to healthcare careers proves something of a challenge, given the various regulations.

Lucky for us here in Greater Peoria, OSF Healthcare was up for the challenge.  They created internships for high schoolers to explore clinical healthcare careers.  Through our Greater Peoria Works program, we connected them with students at Peoria Public Schools.  We recently had a chance to catch up with our first two OSF interns.

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Amanda and Rochelle, both seniors at Richwoods High School, were curious about pursuing a career in healthcare and were looking for a way to experience potential careers first-hand.  So they jumped at the opportunity.

“I was really nervous in my interview, but it must have gone okay, because they offered me the internship!” said Rochelle.

“These two have been such an incredible help,” said Deuanna Moore-Harris, the Sterile Processing Department (SPD) supervisor, as we navigated a maze of hallways.  “We didn’t know what to expect as we’ve never had students in our department, but when we interviewed these two we knew they’d be great.  I don’t have to worry about them at all!”

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“Neither of us had any idea what the SPD was, but it’s been great meeting all the other employees and seeing all the hard work that happens in a hospital you don’t know about,” said Amanda. “Interning in this department gives me a sense that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Before this opportunity at OSF Healthcare, both Amanda and Rochelle had limited work histories, with Amanda working at a bakery and Rochelle working summers as a camp counsellor.  While an internship in the SPD may seem unglamorous, for these two it has made a world of difference in helping plan their next steps after high school.

“This opportunity has definitely strengthened my interest in pursuing a healthcare career, but it’s also shown me that there are more careers out there than I thought,” said Amanda, who plans on attending ICC in the fall with assistance from a Peoria Promise grant.

“I’m so excited, and this opportunity has made me more certain this is what I want to do,” said Rochelle, who was recently accepted to the pre-med program at the University of Illinois Chicago.

As Amanda and Rochelle led us around the SPD, showing us the ins-and-outs of their role, we were blown away by their confidence and the respect they had earned by their seasoned colleagues in the short time on the job.

We’re so proud of both Amanda, Rochelle, and of our partners at OSF Healthcare who stepped up to lead in creating these internships. We look forward to seeing this program and its success grow!

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