Hospital seeking student volunteers for the summer

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) – School lets out soon for many students around the area, and one local hospital is recruiting young volunteers to spend their summer giving back.

Harris Hospital in Newport offers high school students a chance to explore the medical field as junior volunteers. Staff say teenagers can learn about possible careers while also building up their resumes.

"There's not a week that goes by that I'm not asked about how I got my start in medicine," Dr. Don Pate said.

Pate says patients always ask him how he got started in the medical field, so he tells them about his mother, a lab worker, setting him in front of a microscope as a young child.

"She just kept working with me," Pate said. "When I was 16, I happened upon an accident. I was the first person there. The guy kept saying, 'You saved me, you saved me,' and I just fell in love with medicine."

Pate, however, says not everyone has those opportunities, so he encourages young people interested in his field to volunteer at a hospital.

"I've got to tell these people – you're going to get back five-fold what you put into it," the general surgeon said. "It is a wonderful experience. You don't have to know medicine. In fact all you have to be in warm and friendly."

Harris Hospital allows students, ages 14 to 18, to spend the summer working alongside medical professionals as junior volunteers.

"Our desire is to spark an interest in maybe bringing our kids back to our hometown to provide needed  healthcare whether it be in the allied profession or physicians or nurses," Rebecca Pearrow said, the hospital's director of marketing.

Not only do the junior volunteers gain exposure to the field, but Pearrow says the hospital also treats them as employees.

"They come in, they have an interview, and they are actually drug screened, background checked, have an orientation before they actually get to work," Pearrow said. "It gives them an opportunity to work side-by-side with healthcare professionals right out there on the floor."

Students commit a minimum of 18 hours during the six-week program, and Dr. Pate says it's time well spent. One of his former volunteers now heads up a trauma center in Tennessee.

"Good luck to all the kids, but I promise you you'll get back five-fold, I promise," Pate said. "Just put forth some effort. You'll get it back."

Harris Hospital will accept applications for junior volunteers until May 25. The program lasts from June 4 to July 16.

For more information, call the hospital at 870-512-3081.

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