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Valley hospital immerses teens in medicine with unique summer program

Posted at 6:28 PM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 21:28:51-04

PHOENIX — Over the past eight weeks, high school students from across the valley immersed themselves in healthcare.

It’s all part of the summer volunteer program at Abrazo’s West Campus in Goodyear.

“I thought it was just the coolest thing ever,” said 15-year-old Cameron Peters.

“It’s been great so far,” said 17-year-old Purvaj Vanga.

Cameron and Purvaj hope to one day become doctors and have pictured it since they were children.

“I dressed up as a doctor for Halloween when I was like ten,” said Purvaj with a smile.

The program enrolled about 42 students this year giving them a chance to see the job in action while meeting the men and women behind the magic of modern medicine.

“We’ve already gotten to see a lot of stuff that people our age don’t usually get to,” said Cameron.

“For the reward of volunteer service, you get to meet our professionals, hands-on, see the equipment, touch the equipment,” said Barry Worman, Director of Volunteer Services.

He says the program requires students to volunteer at the hospital four hours a week, earning them what they call lunch and learns as well as interactive workshops.

“In those workshops, they have someone’s undivided attention, so they have a surgeon, a specialist, a radiologist that’s up there, and they tell them everything from A to Z, salary, challenges, rewards, education, the best career paths to take,” said Worman.

“We always have doctors coming in from different departments and teaching us how their day-to-day life is, and how they got there,” said Purvaj.

The eye-opening education doesn’t stop there. The students get hands-on experience in different fields from emergency medicine to radiology to nursing and pharmacy. They even get to check out the latest in robot-assisted surgery.

“Barry also had one of his friends who is an inflight nurse speak to us,” said Cameron. “They landed the emergency helicopter and told us all about their job. It was really cool and interesting.”

“A lot of them want to be doctors and then by the time the summer is over they go you know what actually, being a pharmacy director seems more interesting, or radiologist, or ER nurse, or flight crew for a trauma helicopter,” added Worman.

The hope is to hook them while they're young.

As the medical industry is expected to face a major shortage of workers in the coming years, it’s opportunities like this that could be the key to filling the gap.

“The medical field is so broad, you can find so many opportunities all it is about is finding what is for you,” said 16-year-old Adelle Nkeze.

If you would like to learn more about the program, click here. Officials say applications for next summer's volunteer program will open in December.