You might find them adjusting splints on simulated patients at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg. Or walking through a hypothetical diagnosis and treatment plan next door at the Community Cancer Center. On Halloween, they organized games and science activities at Winston’s South River Community Health Center, introducing area youngsters to candy-free fun.
These represent just a handful of ways in which Douglas County youth can explore health care careers and beef up their leadership skills through the Bright Works Oregon Healthcare Team. Administered by the Area Health Education Center of Southwest Oregon, Bright Works is being piloted in Douglas County, with plans for regional expansion.
Bright Works does more than expose students to health care careers and hook them up with professional mentors. The program also offers hands-on experience as well as participation in countywide community projects focused on preventive health care. Bright Works was recently awarded a $15,980 mini-grant from the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub, a Douglas County Partners for Student Success initiative.
“In addition to monthly meetings with a career focus, there are career days and special events such as Diagnosis Day, a four-hour event at Mercy Medical Center that gets students exposed to a variety of careers as well as teamwork in a health care setting,” said Rose Zoellner, AHECSW program director. “With community partners, students get to kick-start projects related to health – and Bright Works is already building a career pipeline now to connect kids to adults for future job openings.”
Current Bright Works student Quinlan Morrow of Roseburg High School said one of the program’s biggest advantages to local students is the way in which it spotlights potential jobs that teens wouldn’t otherwise know existed in the area.
“The presenters really hit home as far as making you think more about careers in health care. It’s really cool to see there’s a lot available in Roseburg, even though it’s a small town,” she said.
Plus, the 17-year-old senior said as she and fellow students prepare ideas for promoting physical activity, “it’s exciting to lead your own health project – and it looks really great on resumes and scholarships.”
With site hubs at the YMCA of Douglas County in Roseburg and South River Community Health Center, Bright Works seeks to expand its reach so that travel is not a barrier to any Douglas County student.
Michael Fernandez, South River health center’s outreach coordinator, said the program has multiple layers of value.
Too often, Fernandez said, students choose a career field, then complete studies and schooling before signing up for a related internship. By then, they may become disenchanted with the choice. “This gives students a true opportunity to immerse themselves early on and get a feel for whether this is a direction where they can make a commitment,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bright Works partners have an opportunity to inspire students and guide the next generation of practitioners, Fernandez said. He added the community at large benefits by showing young people there are opportunities to stay and fill competitive-wage jobs: “We stand to retain that talent, retain young families and rebuild our economy.”
Currently, Bright Works has 22 students registered, representing Umpqua Valley Christian School and Roseburg and Douglas high schools. Camas Valley and South Umpqua high school students are expected to be included next.
The program is accepting more students. Find out more about Bright Works by visiting www.healthyoregon.com/programs/bwo.
Area Health Education Center of Southwest Oregon is a DCPSS partner. AHEC’s Executive Director Chris Guastaferro serves on the DCPSS executive and steering committees. Click below to learn more about AHEC and its work in our county.