Hospital Staff Returns to the High School Classroom

March 27, 2023

Hospital Staff Returns to the High School Classroom

Valci Carvalho came to Martha’s Vineyard in his freshman year of high school as an immigrant from Brazil. It was a chemistry teacher at MVRHS who inspired him to start thinking about a career in pharmacy, something he acknowledged he had not considered prior to his teacher speaking with him after class.

Valci called Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH) Pharmacy Director Dave Caron and asked if he could shadow him. The experience prompted Valci to study pharmacy.

“When I graduated, I came to the hospital and told Dave, ‘You need to give me a job’.”

Today, Valci is the Pharmacy Operations Manager at MVH and recently he and other members of the hospital staff have been spending time in a high school classroom through a collaboration between the hospital and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) aimed at inspiring students to pursue career paths in health care.

But instead of just telling the students about the many great options in pharmacy, radiology, the lab, and facilities, among others at MVH, hospital employees like Valci are showing them what’s possible for a future career.

During a session at MVRHS with former Martha’s Vineyard Hospital employee Melinda McCarron, who runs the school’s health education program, Valci was joined by Pharmacy Director Dave Caron, R.Ph, Pharm.D., Clinical Manager Diagnostic Imaging Natasha Hartmann, RT, and Laboratory Manager Lynn Mercer during a class for freshmen at the school who are interested in learning more about the health care field. Joel Seeram, a pharmacy intern, also attended the session.

“I know you’re only freshmen, but we want you to start to think about your future,” Dave told the students. “Maybe there are opportunities where we work where you can envision yourself as being part of that.”

While students may think of traditional hospital roles of doctors and nurses, Dave pointed out there are other vital roles to be filled. “We’re here to tell you that there are so many different opportunities that if you have a passion for something – even on the business end – you have a place at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital,” he told the students. “If you love this island of Martha’s Vineyard and you want to continue here as a professional to be successful, you can do it because we have a home for you.”

Valci invited students who might be interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy to do what he did and visit the hospital to shadow him. “If that at all interests you, I would highly recommend that you look into being a pharmacy technician.”

Working for the pharmacy is a rewarding career. “You get to see the impact that you have in someone’s life. We have an infusion clinic where we get to see what we’re making and how it’s making a big difference in someone’s life who is going through very difficult times. That, for me, makes all the difference.”

Natasha told the students that she has never regretted her decision to pursue a career in radiology. She didn’t want to pursue a bachelor’s degree out of high school and, instead, went to community college where she received an associate degree. “The sky’s the limit.”

In answering a question from a student, Natasha said there are many wonderful aspects to her job including helping doctors find the correct diagnosis for patients. “But the coolest thing is seeing the ultrasound of a baby.”

Lynn said living on island it’s common to see friends and family come to the hospital’s lab. One of the students asked if that’s difficult. She said it can be when you need to take a sample. “So just do it as quickly and efficiently as possible, get the specimen, and let them go home. That’s sometimes the best you can do.” Seeing a familiar face puts the patient at ease, she added.

Other sessions for MVRHS students will include representatives of the rehabilitation, respiratory therapy, cardiac rehab, and dietary departments from the hospital

Dave and Melinda are working on a shared portal where summer job listings will be posted to give students a taste of what it’s like to work in a health care setting, as well as providing a chance to network. “Once you get the foot in the door, you know how the story goes; you get to meet people,” Dave said.

Melinda said she’ll be working with hospital staff to get students additional opportunities to visit the hospital to learn more.  “We’re not holding anybody into one position at this point. We want you to feel everything. We want you to sample – have tapas instead of the main entrée. We want you all to learn a little bit.”

Dave said he initiated the outreach program, which will feature three to four sessions, after accepting his vice president role. He was surprised by the number of outside agencies that were required to meet staffing needs. “I was overwhelmed with contract requests. I began to understand how important it will be to the sustainability of our hospital to have an ‘island grown’ workforce.”

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