Koleen Blake practices cleaning a wound on a medical manequin as RN Donna Post provided instruction.

Students learned about endoscopic examinations in a suite at the hospital's operating room complex from RMH Scrub Technician Kim Womack.

(Riverton) — Twenty eight middle school students from three area schools donned medical scrub tops and spent nearly a full day at Riverton Memorial Hospital April 13th to receive hands-on experience and learn about healthcare career options.

The career exploration activity known as REACH (Research and Explore Awesome Careers in Healthcare) was sponsored by Fremont County BOCES through a grant from the Wyoming Department of Health’s Rural and Frontier Health Division.

The goal of the REACH Program is to increase awareness, interest and understanding of health careers available in rural Wyoming. The 28 students from Riverton, Shoshoni and Wyoming Indian were divided into groups and toured the hospital, participating in hands-on experiences from hospital staff members in up to 19 different activities. Students learned proper hand washing techniques, how to clean and dress a wound, the latest CPR procedures, electronic records and much more. Students visited the various hospital departments from accounting to information technology to the pharmacy and laboratory and everything in between. The students were also able to inspect a medical helicopter now serving Riverton from Classic Lifeguard, which made a special trip to the hospital for the event.

Riverton Memorial Hospital RN Danette Stone demonstrated proper hand washing techniques for the students.

“This is the a new program we initiated this year Wyoming,” said Michelle Hoffman of Cheyenne, director of the Office of Rural Health, in the Rural and Frontier Health Division of the Wyoming Department of Health. “We’re focusing on middle school students now so they may begin taking the necessary classes in high school to put themselves on an appropriate path for a career that interests them.”

“We sincerely appreciate the support of Lindsey Anderson and the administration and staff at Riverton Memorial Hospital for not only taking time out of their schedules, but to plan a very interesting day for the students,” Benson said.

Phyllis Gardner had her blood pressure checked by Sarah Gantenbein, RMH's OB Director.

Wyoming Indian student Elsie Marquez said she was amazed at how much equipment goes into running a hospital. “I knew you had to work with computers, but I didn’t know they had them in every room for the nurses,” she said. Phyllis Gardner said her mother is a WIC nurse, “so nothing really surprised me here. I thought I’d look at something different and really enjoyed the CPR, which I’d never done before, and the hand washing exercise was cool.”

Koleen Blake practiced cleaning a wound on a medical manequin as RN Donna Post provided instruction.

Riverton Middle School student Serenity Lowry said she has decided on a career in radiology, which she was interested in before the tour. “I thought the medical history area was interesting, too, and I was happy with the day, it was fun, although I had to wash my hands three times to get them clean.

Students were shown what their hands looked like under ultraviolet light, which illuminated germs, and then they were shown and practiced proper hand washing techniques.

Bridger Amman of RMS said she enjoyed getting to know “the how and why they do what they do here.” Amman said she most enjoyed a visit to the pharmacy. “It was the coolest thing we saw, but I also was interested in the germ control things we saw.”

Student John Peasley of Shoshoni was intrigued with a visit to the hospital’s podiatrist. “The foot doctor has a pretty unique area, but I also really enjoyed getting to know how to do CPR. It was also interesting to learn how easy it is to get a germ on your hands and that it’s not as easy to remove them.” He said he is considering some kind of career in medicine, but not sure exactly what yet.

Students gathered around a Classic Lifeguard medical evacuation helicopter that now serves Riverton during their visit to Riverton Memorial Hospital.

The helicopter had a big impact on Javier Hermosillo of Wyoming Indian. “I think I might like to be a pilot, I hadn’t thought of that before,” he said. “It was a cool day, I learned two life-saving techniques today.”

Before the students returned to their respective schools, Rural Health’s Hoffman said the experiences they had were just a few of the many, many career options available to them. “We have a shortage of healthcare workers in Wyoming, which will grow as the population becomes older,” she said, urging them to consider a healthcare career.

Twenty eight middle school students from Riverton, Shoshoni and Wyoming Indian participated in the REACH career exploration program at Riverton Memorial Hospital April 13th.

Benson suggested students should look at the CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) curriculum that FC BOCES provides in the local high schools “as a good start to learn even more about healthcare options and needs” as they plan their future careers.

–Fremont County BOCES