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CPS high schoolers get a head start on careers in medicine

Nia Clifton, a 17 year-old senior at Percy L. Julian High School dreams of becoming a pediatrician.

“I like working with babies. I’d rather work with babies than anyone else,” she says. So, when Advocate Trinity Hospital invited Clifton to participate in its four-year internship program for future health professionals as an assistant in its OB-GYN unit, she jumped at the chance.

 “It’s giving me experiences where I can see how people actually work with babies,” she said. And to make this opportunity even sweeter, the six-week program also pays.

This year, Clifton is one of 10 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high school juniors and seniors who are getting a first-hand look at what it takes to work in the health professions through summer internships at Advocate Trinity Hospital.

Not one student is assigned to work in an office or sit behind a computer desk. Advocate Trinity’s summer interns are actively participating in the daily operations of Advocate Trinity’s Cardiac Cath Lab, Emergency and OB-GYN Departments and in-patient care units.

“We make sure (patients) are OK. We ask them if they need anything and help the CNAs (certified nurses) pick up food trays, make beds and provide water for patients,” explains Sierra Curse, 17, a senior at Julian High School.

Students selected for this accelerated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) opportunity are juniors and seniors at Chicago Vocational, South Shore and Percy Julian High Schools. Participating students also attend Advocate Trinity’s Pathways to Health Careers after-school STEM enrichment program. Each of this year’s interns has plans to attend college and pursue a career in the health professions.

“Far too often during our outreach work in the community, we meet young people who believe a career in healthcare is out of their reach. For the past four years, we’ve offered internships to encourage and inspire these students to prepare for the academic requirements for a career in health,” says Jackie Rouse, regional director of community health, Advocate Health Care.

Many of the high school interns believe this summer opportunity stands to have a significant impact on the rest of their lives.

Curse, who aspires to become a registered nurse, says “I want to have hands-on experience to make sure this is the right career path for me.”

Future registered nurse Treshara Bryant, 17, also entering her senior year at Julian High School, agrees. “I can actually see what the nurses are doing. I’m going to be a CNA in my senior year. If I come back to work at Trinity, I’ll know what I’ll be doing,” she says.

Advocate Trinity’s summer internships are being provided in partnership with the city’s One Summer Chicago program, which funds the interns’ stipends.


Keywords: Advocate Trinity Hospital, career, health care, High School, internship, Job Training, students

Posted in Education Initiatives, Healthcare/Health Resources, Workforce and Career Development