Monday, July 20, 2015
As a 5-foot-4-inch high school student in the “From Jump Rope to Stethoscope” program, Audrey Page was too short to see over the shoulder of a female medical student in a Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center operating room. Then 17, she was there shadowing medical professionals during a live operation.
“[The medical student] gave me a step stool so I could see over her shoulder and get a better look,” Page said. “I got to see an open-heart surgery and see a heart beating in and out, inside a body.”
I got to see an open-heart surgery and see a heart beating in and out, inside a body.
That experience sealed the deal for Page to pursue a career in health care. Now 20 years old and a pre-nursing major at James Madison University, she is one of several former program participants who attended the FJR2S 10-year celebration on July 16 at the Science Museum of Virginia.
The program exposes students to the health care field by providing opportunities to work with and shadow medical professionals. The program was created with the goal of addressing the nursing shortage and exposing more minorities and males to nursing. FJR2S is just one of many pipeline programs offered through the VCU Division for Health Sciences Diversity. It is operated by the VCU Medical Center Department of Workforce Development and Strategy.
The FJR2S celebration was a testament to the success of the program and the need for programs that steer students in a positive direction, organizers said.
“This is an innovative program that really supports kids in understanding they can make their dreams come true,” said Sheryl Garland, vice president of health policy and community relations at VCU Health System.
Several former program participants spoke at the celebration event, detailing memorable experiences shadowing doctors, nurses and athletic trainers.
“The whole experience was great. I had an internship at a dialysis unit and got to see every side of the unit by shadowing doctors, nurses and social workers,” said Alexander Viglis, 18, a former program participant. Viglis attended the program for three years as a high school student and will begin studies at Marymount University as a nursing major in the fall.
Additionally, Viglis began his own health care initiative by raising money for Ewing sarcoma, a type of cancer mostly found in children and adolescents. He has a cousin with the disease, and made raising money for research his senior project.
“I always wanted to be a nurse, but FJR2S validated my choice,” he said.
Each year, FJR2S also offers a for-credit course in health care at a designated high-risk middle school within the Richmond Public Schools system. In addition, FJR2S is the conduit to the Boy Scouts of America’s “Learning for Life” program, which is offered to high school students, male and female, ages 14 to 18, who are interested in learning more about health care careers. Through in-house and community efforts, FJR2S has educated more than 4,500 middle and high school students.
Program managers Theresa Mondovics and Karen Hill emceed the night’s program and expressed excitement to see program alumni doing well, studying health care and serving as program volunteers.
“Ten years later, you are the product of our hard work,” Mondovics said.
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