Mercy’s new Volunteen Program now seeking summer applicants

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Program teaches teens about medical professions

For the first time, Mercy Hospital Cassville is offering a unique summer experience for students who want to work in the medical field through its Volunteen Program.

The program, which will be held June 14 through Aug. 4, aims to give students the opportunity to gain an inside look at the day-to-day tasks of health care workers.

Cassville students ages 14-17 are invited to apply for the program, which will offer opportunities to work in a variety of areas such as nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy, laboratory and more. Specific areas will depend on availability.

The program has been offered at Mercy Hospital in Berryville, Ark., for several years with good results, said Cody Qualls, Mercy Volunteen program director.

"Last year, I accepted between 15-20 students and had to turn away about 35," Qualls said. "The students seem to enjoy it, and the staff as well. It allows students who are interested in the medical profession the opportunity to volunteer in the hospital setting to gain experience and see if they might want to make a career out of it."

The program helps students pinpoint what career they really want to pursue, not just the career they think they want.

"People say, 'I want to be a nurse,' but they don't actually understand what a nurse does from day-to-day," Qualls said. "So we have students start the program who say they've always wanted to be a nurse and then maybe they find they're more interested in something else. Then we have some students who have no idea what area they are interested in and fall in love with physical therapy. The program is for the kids, to help them learn and put them on the right track."

Qualls said that after the success in Berryville, Mercy wants to bring the same opportunities to Cassville youth.

"It's a program that not all Mercy facilities do," he said.

The program is limited to Cassville students, but it may invite students from other area schools to participate in the future as it grows.

"We're going to learn and develop as we grow," Qualls said. "For example, in Berryville, we allow several high schools to participate."

Responsible, hardworking students with reliable transportation are expected to contribute between four and 20 hours a week, on a volunteer basis, and will be observing medical professionals at work, as well as assisting with a variety of support tasks.

"Students will be doing a lot of observing, specifically in the nursing areas, and it's going to give them a much better idea of what a real-life RN does from day-to-day, what a pharmacist does, or a physical therapist does," Qualls said.

Qualls said the program will offer flexible work hours due to busy summer schedules.

"It is an extremely flexible program, because we understand kids have church and sport camps, vacations and kids are very busy in the summer months," he said. "If they want to work 20 hours the first few weeks, than can't work at all the next two weeks because they'll be on vacation, it can be personalized for that individual student. We do our best to meet the needs of all the students."

Orientation will begin June 13 orientation.

Pamela Foland, human resources assistant at Mercy Cassville, will be providing day-to-day support during the program.

To apply, interested Cassville High School students should pick up an application from their counselor's office, and return them to Emily Jackson at Mercy Cassville Administration, or Foland in Human Resources by May 12.

For more information, Qualls can be reached at 870-423-5245.

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