Teenagers shadowing physicians, interacting with nurses, and learning the ropes everywhere from the emergency room to the administrative suite, and more. It’s all part of a normal day for students within the “Morris County Allied Health Medical Institute,” a unique new learning partnership that’s providing high school juniors and seniors in Morris County, NJ with unprecedented opportunities to explore and expand their studies within the medical professions and get a head start on a successful career in health care.
Officially launched in September 2018, the Medical Institute is a partnership between the Pequannock Township School District, Atlantic Health System’s Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, and Morris County Vocational School District.
“The high school level is where you want to begin exposing students to the wide range of health care opportunities available to them,” explains Stephanie Schwartz, president of Chilton Medical Center, which has opened its doors to nearly 40 students from high schools throughout Morris County.
By all measures, the curriculum is rigorous, adds Dr. Rosalie Winning, assistant superintendent, Pequannock Township School District. “Students spend time in the classroom learning everything from medical terminology, anatomy and more, and then rotate through various departments at Chilton Medical Center to get real-life clinical experience,” says Dr. Winning. “Participating students can earn 18 credits at Rutgers University (or transferable to another school).” The 1,000-hour program is free to qualified students and includes transportation.
According to its administrators, the unique program is a win-win for all participants. For Chilton Medical Center, “We feel this program aligns perfectly with our values and culture of continuous learning,” shares Maureen Schneider, PhD, MBA, RN, FACHE, chief nursing and operations officer for Chilton Medical Center.
Dr. Winning agrees the program meets the needs of Pequannock Township School District as well. “We’re honored to work with Chilton Medical Center, and their willingness to let our kids in shines a different light on the role that hospitals and schools can play as partners in a learning community,” Dr. Winning says.
The students also see value in the program.
“It is a great eye-opener for kids who want to go into the medical field,” says Parsippany-based junior Madhav Barot. “In school, our knowledge of the profession is often limited to just doctors or nurses, but we’ve seen that there are so many other roles in a hospital, from patient care techs (PCTs) and IT specialists to phlebotomists and more.”
Overall, Schwartz believes the program truly connects the hospital to its community and takes education to the next level. “This is a beneficial program that we hope will continue to grow,” she says. “Having the students on campus has been a rewarding experience. If we can help change one student’s perspective on a career, then we’ve done our part.”