July 3, 2013

CAMC educates students on health careers through Imagine UMost people will never see an actual open heart, brain or knee surgery.

That is unless you are a student in West Virginia.

CAMC partners with the West Virginia Department of Education to plan, organize and offer a virtual surgery experience that provides students (11th and 12th graders) health care career awareness and exploration. Imagine U helps students imagine themselves as health care professionals especially in medicine, nursing or allied health.

There are many career options for students wanting to become a health care professional.

"It has become increasingly difficult for students to be exposed to the health care setting through job shadowing because of federal privacy regulations," said Janna Paterno, human resources, director for workforce development. "Imagine U: A Virtual Healthcare Experience is a way for students to experience the environment of a hospital from the classroom."

Aside from watching a surgery and listening to a doctor explain the procedure, students can watch an interview with health care providers who have been a part of the patient's care. The videotaped interviews give students a look into the everyday job duties; level of education required and provides annual salary ranges for each job role.

"CAMC wants students to have a greater awareness of the many health care positions available to them and to hear from employees why they choose to do the job they do every day," said Beverly Thornton, CAMC Institute education division director.

During the live webcast, students and teachers email or tweet questions to the doctor and receive answers in real time.

"Imagine U is a perfect way to provide high school aged students a behind-the-scenes look look inside the health care system," Thornton said. "Teachers can turn their classroom into a health care setting via the live Imagine U broadcast. Students who may be interested or those who are undecided about pursuing a health care career can interact with various health care providers, see them in action and experience sights, sounds and ethical issues related to health care."

CAMC's first virtual experience was an open heart surgery that was delivered in the fall of 2007.

At that time, similar projects were only done by hospitals in South Carolina and Rhode Island. Target counties include Kanawha, Putnam, Boone, Clay and Jackson; however, other counties throughout the State have the ability to access the live webcast or archived presentations (at http://camcinstitute.org/imagineu). Surgeries have included: brain, open heart, robotic hiatal hernia repair, trauma surgery repairing a knee and a kidney transplant.

The state department of education prepares student curriculum for each program topic. The curriculum is sent to each of the participating schools prior to the program and is also available on the website.

"Imagine U is a wonderful opportunity for CAMC to be an educational leader, as a teaching hospital and an innovative way to promote health care career awareness," Paterno said.

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