UPMC hosts high school healthcare career day | News, Sports, Jobs


South Williamsport Area High School Seniors Brodey Persun, 17, left, and Jayda Miller, 18, right, try to find a number in the phone book and then dial it correctly while Miller wears glasses that simulate having cataracts at the UPMC Healthcare Career Day at the Liberty Arena in Williamsport on Wednesday. This table, by UPMC Senior Communities, gave the students a chance to learn about what it is to live with a visual or hearing impairment. KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Future nurses, pathologists, phlebotomists, respiratory therapists, paramedics, senior communities healthcare workers and environmental sciences professionals were among those checking out the career stations set up inside the Liberty Arena Wednesday.

To the background sound of lively music and UPMC Mascot Will M. Sport dancing, dozens of students from the area, in grades 10 through 12, the age when many are starting to form an idea of what they might want to pursue in post-secondary education, met with healthcare professionals with UPMC in North Central Pa.

These professionals teamed up with local colleges and universities and military recruiters with the Army, Army Reserves and Navy to host the healthcare career exploration fair held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Lock Haven University, Susquehanna University, Pennsylvania College of Technology and Luzerne County Community College were represented.

“We held this event to really just try to introduce the students to a lot of different opportunities in healthcare and show them what it means to be a healthcare worker,” said Kyle Bryan, who is with the Human Resources department at UPMC North Central Pa., who helps with recruitment.

Students wore virtual reality eye wear in a behavioral science table, put on tinted glasses mimicking a patient with cataracts, watched a tourniquet being applied by a paramedic in prehospital care station and found out that mechanics servicing air conditioning and heating, vehicles and buildings are as much of the team to make hospitals run smoothly at the engineering and maintenance display.


Paramedics and emergency medical technicians with UPMC Prehospital services with Susquehanna Regional Emergency Medical Services, demonstrated how to put on a tourniquet to stop a life-threatening bleed, how to intubate a patient to get oxygen into their lungs when they are not breathing and showed them what it was like to be the first line of defense when patients needs critical lifesaving.

A nurse recruiting station not only showed what it took to become a registered or licensed practical nurse but also the way to become a Certified Nurse Assistant or CNA.

UPMC has openings for patient care technicians, which are similar to CNAs, but a certification is not needed ahead of employment.

“We will teach them the skills ahead of time after they receive a high school diploma or GED to get them interested in nursing,” Bryan said.

A respiratory therapy team, a career field that has gotten much more publicity because of COVID, were next to the UPMC pharmacy team. Pharmacy employees may require a bachelor or associate degree but there also are non-bachelor certifications available to pursue.

Team members from UPMC Human Resources department showed students opportunities in human resources and spoke to them about what type of careers are open, benefits available for and jobs that were part-time and full-time.

“Helping guide them further in their career track,” Bryan said.

Surgical Services professionals were there to explain what tools are utilized in surgery, give a perspective of an operating room and describe the prevalence of same-day surgical procedures

Not only the surgeons are needed in operating rooms but there are programs for nurses, anesthesiologists, surgical technicians – all critical to the successful surgery, post-surgery and ultimately healing and long-term health of patients.

Hospitals are miniature cities and the Food Services department that provides the meals for the cafeteria goes beyond what is served to patients and staff. This department also is for students interested in becoming dietitians and that is critical for patients who are on the road to recovery.

A large assembly of students gathered around the team working in Senior Communities. These long-term living providers had the students wear glasses that mimicked a cataract and asked them to pick the right colored pills and to read a phone book.

The UPMC Lab was represented.

In the past few years with the pandemic, the lab employees “became unsung heroes at times,” Bryan said. The lab professionals, including pathologists, phlebotomists and medical laboratory technicians work as a team together with the physicians for whole patient care.

For students interested in chemistry, biology and mathematics who might not be as comfortable on the patient floors, the laboratory field might be the place to pursue.

Physical, occupational and speech therapists had a table with a sample of a human spinal cord. Environmental science staff demonstrated how they sanitize rooms and equipment, showing how dirty a phone surface is contaminated by viruses and bacteria.

UPMC has a Behavioral Health Department for patients that might have some type of behavior disease or disorder causing problems with mobility or speech.

Overall, the opportunity to provide career-path guidance was a valuable day for most of the students, who huddled around each of the display tables, scooping up literature and free gifts provided by UPMC and The Liberty Arena staff.

In all, Pittsburgh-based UPMC, a $24 billion health care provider and insurer, has invented new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care and remains the largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, integrating 92,000 employees, 40 hospitals, and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites.

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