Teens experience world of health care at TCHC

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By Ryan Damlo, Foundation Executive Director


This spring, 14 high school students participated in a volunteer program called VolunTeen. This program allows students age 14 or older from the Tri-County Health Care service area to get an inside look at departments of health care like nursing. Students do a range of activities including bringing meal trays to patients, helping nurses with administrative tasks and interacting one to one with our patients.

VolunTeen volunteer Serving Senior Female Patient A MealThis year, these 14 students came from seven local high schools to be a part of this program, which is offered every spring for six weeks. These students joined VolunTeen to get a hands-on look at possible future careers in the health care arena.

If you would like more information about this program or how to join, please contact me at 218-632-8148 or ryan.damlo@tchc.org.

Here’s a little insight into VolunTeen through the eyes of four of our students: Henning High School students Megan Rinicker and Marissa Rehm and Verndale High School students Morgan Wiese and Emily Veronen.


What made you decide to sign up for VolunTeen?

Megan: I decided to sign up for VolunTeen because I know that I would like to pursue a career in the medical field, but I didn’t know exactly what department.

Marissa: I had signed up for the VolunTeen program because I thought it would be a great opportunity to see the working environment in the hospital setting and to familiarize myself more with Tri-County, and it definitely did!

Morgan: I did it to learn more about the health care field.

Emily: Since I am going into the medical field, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to start gaining experience in the hospital environment.


What were your main responsibilities?

Megan: My main responsibility during VolunTeen was making sure that the patients had everything they needed including food and water.

Marissa: My main responsibilities with the VolunTeen program were passing out water, passing out meal trays and collecting them, and helping the nurses with any responsibilities they may have for me.

Morgan: I did a lot of organizing while I was there.

Emily: Mainly my responsibility was assisting the dietary staff as well as the nurses. I helped dietary by delivering supper to all of the patients, which was fun to interact with the patients and gain experience. I also was in charge of refilling the waters of the patients when needed and assisted the nurses by doing basically any extra jobs that they needed help with. For example, one night I hole-punched blank papers for patient records.


What did you learn?A female VolunTeen is chatting to a senior man lay in a hospital bed . She is holding a digital tablet and asking him a few questions .

Megan: I learned that you have to have lots of patience when talking and getting everything that was requested of you.

Marissa: From this experience, I learned many different things that will help my future in health care. The most important aspect I will take away from the VolunTeen program is how to talk and present myself to patients. I think this is one of the most looked over aspects of health care, and that can really make a difference.

Morgan: I learned that I needed to mark the patient’s water intake and that there is a need for nurses.

Emily: I learned that it is important to ask questions and be an outgoing person. The girls that I worked with were both super nice and helped me become more outgoing and willing to build friendships with new people. The nurses were also very friendly, which made them approachable, and they were always willing to answer questions.


How did VolunTeen increase your interest in the world of health care?

Megan: This did not further my interest in the world of health care because it didn’t touch on the departments I’m interested in, but at least now I know that.

Marissa: I have always been set on working in the world of health care, but this program really opened my eyes up to working in a hospital setting, such as Tri-County.

Morgan: I was thinking about going into the dental field, but now would like to be an RN because I saw how much patients rely on the nurses.

Emily: I already had a strong interest in the health care field, so I think that this experience reinforced my beliefs that the health care field was where I want to work.


Health Care Opportunities for Young People

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There are a handful of different opportunities at Tri-County Health Care for young people interested in health care.

One of them is the summer internship program. This program gives students the opportunity to shadow 14 different

2015 Summer Interns

2015 Summer Interns

departments throughout the organization. Students must have just completed their junior year of high school to participate. The internship program has been highly competitive with more than 25 students applying this year and only eight being chosen.

One of those students is 16 year-old Marissa Geyer, an incoming senior at Henning High School. She’s been a part of the Tri-County Health Care’s VolunTEEN program three times. “I’m hoping if I know for sure what aspect I like of the medical field, it will help me select the specific college I want,” said Marissa. Although she has not decided where she would like to go to college, she has narrowed it down to a select three.

Marissa Geyer

Marissa Geyer

When asked about her future career goals she shared, “When I was really young I wanted to be a pediatrician, but then my dad suffered a stress fracture. I went with him to his appointment and his doctor was talking about the scans he received to make his prognosis. Observing this conversation peaked my interest in radiology.”

Janet Wiedewitsch, TCHC Staffing Coordinator said, “It’s fun to see the student transition throughout the internship. Someone could come in wanting to go into radiology, but after the program decide they want to give pharmacy a try.”

If students are interested in learning more about this paid internship opportunity, or other internship and shadowing opportunities available at Tri-County, click here.

Janet says the best things these young people walk away with is, “learning that one department is not more important than another. They also see how our organization works as a team.”