High school students gain health care experience with Project HOPE

October 4, 2016 By Maggie Dority
Student in an operating room with a medical professional

Asked if she was squeamish at the sight of blood, DaNeil Jolley was given scrubs and guided to a dimly lit room that smelled noticeably of cleaner, where she was about to watch a laparoscopic surgery. At just 16 years old, this was Jolley’s first day as an intern in the surgical unit at Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake, Washington, where she watched surgeries each day for two weeks.

Medical professionals prepare an operation room“I was just awe-struck by everything about it – the way it smelled in the room to the way everything looked, from the concentration on the doctor’s faces, as well as seeing them being able to help this person out,” she said.

Jolley was one of 30 high school students selected out of 138 applicants to participate in Project HOPE, a four-week, paid summer internship program where students are placed at health care facilities within their local community.

Project HOPE is a program under the Eastern Washington Area Health Education Center (EWAHEC), which strives to strengthen the health workforce in rural and underserved areas of eastern Washington. Project HOPE is just one of many programs AHEC provides, and introduces students who are first-generation college bound from rural areas to health care professions.

Jolley’s interest in health care stems from her family’s experience – particularly when she learned from her father, a registered nurse, that they are descendants of the medicine man of the Nez Perce Tribe.

Smiling student“That was one of the things that made me interested in health care, especially with our connection to the tribe,” she said. “We have Nez Perce pride. We are proud of our tribe and our roots.”

Despite having no previous health care experience, Jolley, a self-described protector, also knew she wanted to go into health care, whether it be a nurse or a doctor, because she has always wanted to help people.

“I remember being on the soccer field when I was younger, and someone would sprain their ankle. I would ask questions like, ‘How do you wrap it? How do you hold it?’” she said.

As part of her internship with Project HOPE, Jolley began her first two weeks in the physical therapy unit. Her last two weeks were spent in the surgical unit, where she watched doctors perform surgeries, such as appendectomies.

A student in scrubs talks to a doctor“Students got a chance to do a variety of things depending on where they were placed,” Robyn Takamine, EWAHEC program coordinator, said. “One of our hospitals, Othello Community Hospital, ended up putting our interns in almost every department they had – they got to see radiology, the lab, dietary, health cleaning. They were able to see what was for them and what wasn’t.”

For Jolley, interning with Project HOPE confirmed her desire to go into health care, and put her on the path of wanting to do general surgery.

“One of the most prominent ways this internship prepared me is that it showed me what really happens for different parts of health care,” she said. “Surgery isn’t like Grey’s Anatomy. You see the real side of it, like patient interactions, and that it’s not always fun and games.”

Jolley is currently a junior at Warden High School, and also participates in running start, in which she will earn her AA degree. She plans to attend college on the pre-medicine track, then attend medical school.

To learn more, visit the Project HOPE website.

Project HOPE Intern Experiences

The following are excerpts from journal entries from Project HOPE interns about their daily experiences in the health care field.

Kyleen Alvarez

Columbia Basin Health Association – Othello, Washington

July 25

Today I got the chance to go to radiology and see a couple of ultrasounds. In these ultrasounds, I observed the radiology tech take baby pictures of the face and record the heartbeats. My supervisor told me that getting pictures of a baby’s face when the baby’s hands are covering their face is very frustrating. I thought it was cool that when the baby was covering its face, the tech would move to the baby’s feet as if it was tickling the baby’s feet and sometimes the baby would move their hands down because they would feel something on their feet. Getting to see some ultrasounds was by far my favorite experience of the internship. I was very inspired and now I think I will continue my education in ultrasound.

Jennifer Dominguez

Othello Community Hospital – Othello, Washington

Aug. 3

Today was a very exciting day for me with EMS! The lady that I was shadowing had me do a lot of hands-on things like check her blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. In addition, I practiced doing CPR on a baby doll. The most exciting part of the day was when they got a call and I was allowed to ride in the ambulance with them. There was a terrible train and semi-truck accident and I was able to watch the procedures they do. I was filled with adrenaline and learned a lot by observing them.

Jennifer Mendoza

Othello Community Hospital – Othello, Washington

July 15

I was assigned to the nurses’ station today. We measured doses of medicine which were going to be given to patients. We also monitored the heart rate of a baby so he found finally go home. We talked to a lot of people in the span of four hours which was nice because I love meeting new people! There were many people who were culturally different but in a way that all meshed perfectly and helped each other out. I realized you need a lot of patience and compassion because you see a lot of things you don’t want to see but have to deal with in health care.