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CHANDLER, Ariz. (July 10, 2019) – A group of prestigious Valley high school students, eager to make their mark in the medical world, are getting first-hand experience this summer through the “Volunteen” program at Dignity Health hospitals in the east valley.
This year, 170 teenagers are participating in the competitive leadership and learning academy at both Dignity Health Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert Medical Centers.
The two-month program, which kicked off on June 3, allows the student volunteers to explore more than 40 different medical departments. The teens select their summer responsibilities based on years of experience volunteering with the program.
Whether the teens are donned in scrubs handling equipment and supplies, delivering floral arrangements or answering questions at the information desk, they are making a difference in the lives of patients, their families and hospital staff members.
“The student volunteers are like sponges, soaking up everything they can about the medical field while they are still in high school,” said Lori Mercer, volunteer services supervisor at Chandler Regional. “We’ve seen how the skills and knowledge the ‘volunteens’ learn through this program help them down the road in their education and career.”
Many of the teens participating in the program, which first launched in 2006, are aspiring health care professionals.
This summer, the student volunteers will sit down with an orthopedic surgeon and ask for career advice. They will also gain hands-on experience in the simulation lab, where they will see how many germs live on human hands and practice the life-saving tool of CPR.
The student volunteers are selected through a rigorous application and interview process.
“More than 275 high school students applied to our nationally recognized summer volunteer program,” said Valerie Heninger, volunteer services supervisor at Mercy Gilbert. “Applicants are required to submit two written essays, provide two letters of recommendation and an official transcript with a minimum 3.5 GPA to be considered for an interview into the program.”
After completing 40 hours of volunteering and attending at least three educational sessions, the “volunteens” receive a certificate and a letter of recommendation. They are also automatically eligible to return to the program the following year.