Did you know what you wanted to do for a career when you were in middle school? SIH teamed up with schools in Herrin to show students what it could be like to work in healthcare in Southern Illinois.

SIH Vice-President and Herrin Hospital Administrator Rodney Smith has had success in the past with career events targeting younger students.

He spoke to about 400 students from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Unity Point Christian School, and the Herrin Junior High on Tuesday April 5.

“What we were finding out is when you guys get to high school we do these careers fairs---you may be juniors before we see you---and you’ve not signed up for the right classes for the things you may be interested in,” Smith said.

During Round One students walked around the Herrin Junior High Gymnasium to hear directly from healthcare workers in wide variety of fields. That included nursing, security, maintenance, human resources, and more.

“When you think of hospitals and healthcare, you’ll find it’s not just about doctors and nurses. There’s a whole lot of opportunity out there.” Smith said.

Herrin Junior High 8th grader Cidne Nelson was one of many students who took advantage.

“I’m really excited about learning my options for career choices,“ she said.

”There are a lot of different branches of it. It’s really amazing to see how many options there are,” 8th grader Gigi George said.

“With them (SIH) coming here to help us learn more about that career—so when we go into high school, we can pick classes that could lead to that career,” 8th grader Chris Banks said.

Brad Heuring, Jr. High Principal was happy after the first phase of the program wrapped up.

“It was the perfect marriage between us and SIH,” he said. “There was just a lot of interest generated---they didn’t know there were other things besides doctors and nurses that they could be at the Herrin Hospital or SIH general.”

Students Explore SIH Herrin Hospital

30 students and their families took the opportunity to dig a little deeper into what SIH has to offer. On April 19 those students were able to have a meal at SIH Herrin Hospital and then tour the facility

“They’re going to see equipment, they’re going to see surgery, administrative functions, plant operations, all kinds of things that happen in the hospital beyond just doctors and nurses,” Smith said. 

Students were broken into groups to see parts of the hospital in action. They got to put on scubs and go into operating rooms, perform CPR on a dummy with the guidance from nurses, and even see how ultrasound and MRI machines work.

“It was interesting. There were some parts that I loved learning,” Banks said. He says he got the most out of the laboratory and imaging departments.

Family members had a good time at the event as well.

“I thought it was great. I thought it was a great opportunity for the kids to see what goes on behind the scenes.” Bobbie Banks said.

The education leaders involved with the pilot program are excited about how it went and what it could mean for their students in the future.

“It is exciting to be able to get exposure to the opportunities in this area for our students,” said OLMC Principal Jason Swann. “Many look at Sothern Illinois as a rural place that doesn’t have a lot of opportunity.”

“Healthcare represents many of the jobs here in Southern Illinois,” said Unity Point Principal William McSparin. “We are privileged to be invited to do this. I feel like healthcare education is vitally important in the 21st century.”

“A career seems far away to 8th graders, but as we all know it will be here before they know it,” said Swann.

SIH is looking at expanding the program into more communities in the future.