Mentoring Program Gives Students Up Close Look at Medical Careers
KANKAKEE, IL (September 16, 2013) – Choosing a career in the medical field is a big commitment, but what if you could have a real-life look at that career before making your final decision?
Through a unique medical career shadowing program, area college students have that opportunity at Riverside Medical Center. Sherri Guertin, director of Volunteer Services created Silhouette, a mentor/shadowing program, five years ago and recently received national recognition through the Association of Hospital Volunteer Resource Professionals. Guertin is honored by the recognition and considers it a role as leaders of hospital volunteer organizations to find ways to work with and encourage the next generation of healthcare professionals.
"Silhouette is an in-depth shadow experience for college juniors and seniors who are on an educational track for pre-med, nursing, PA, social work, community health, pharmacy or mental health," Guertin said. As a leader of Riverside's volunteer services, Guertin believes it to be part of her responsibilities to encourage not only volunteerism but also to help the next generation of potential healthcare professionals.
After applying and being accepted to the program, students go through orientation and list the top three specialties they are most interested in. Guertin then looks for physicians and nurses to pair them up. The mentoring program lasts 6- to 8-weeks, during which the student shadows his or her mentor for 4-20 hours per week. Students observe everything their mentor does, including clinic, rounds, procedures, operating room, meetings, lectures and everything in between.
"During my Silhouette experience, I quickly fell in love with cardiac nursing at Riverside," said Kathryn Jacobsen, RN. "Today I am a night shift nurse on 3Med/Telemetry."
Many times, this program is the spark a student needs to become even more excited about career possibilities. For others, it's exactly what they need to show them that a particular specialty or area concentration may not necessarily for them.
"Either way, it's a learning experience they would never have had, and they're so much better positioned to make a career choice based on their experience," said Guertin.
"Silhouette offers these students a unique way to expose and connect them to their field of interest, giving them a clearer direction in their careers and motivating them to continue working hard in their studies, especially for those interested in neurosurgery," said Neurosurgeon Dr. Juan Jimenez, one of the mentoring physicians in the program.
Michael Pyle, MD, and biology professor at Olivet Nazarene University, had been trying to create a similar program for ONU's pre-med students.
"It was nice not to have to build a shadowing wagon from scratch, but rather to hitch our program to the Silhouette wagon that was already rolling," Dr. Pyle said. "It effectively introduces our students to hospital volunteerism and healthcare professions."
"It's possible when these students graduate and are looking for a place to practice, Riverside will already be somewhere they're comfortable with, and we hope they put us at the top of their radar in their job search," said Guertin.