HAZLETON, Pa. — This school year, middle schoolers in Hazleton Area School District got a special chance to learn more about the healthcare industry by talking with specialized workers and learning more about different jobs and how they work.
“I found the different jobs interesting. Personally, when I thought of healthcare, I only thought of a doctor and nurse," said student Dante Jordan.
The goal is to get those students thinking about their futures.
“I never really thought of going into healthcare at all, really, and after the program, I am really interested in going into healthcare. I’ve always liked to help people, and it makes a perfect fit for me," said student Kasandra Gaizick.
With Pennsylvania and the nation facing a serious shortage of nurses and other healthcare pros, programs like this are popping up.
Organizers used a special grant to put this healthcare program together.
“It really felt amazing that we all could come together during this time, especially the healthcare practitioners. So excited to be part of something like this right from the beginning because they knew what kind of opportunity this was!” said Cathy Colangelo of Greater Hazleton Partners in Education.
This healthcare program was a virtual one.
Organizers are working to develop it so the middle schoolers can continue to have it as they get older and continue through school.
“At the beginning of the program, 24 percent of students said they knew something about careers in healthcare and at the end of it, 81 percent of the students said they know a lot about careers In healthcare," said Valerie Cerra of Lesson aLIVE.
Program developers say they want to make this a model for any other school district to take and use.
They are also hoping to inspire these students to not only get into healthcare jobs but to recognize the need here stay in northeastern Pennsylvania.
“There is a great need in this area so for those people who have family here who have grown up here. This program was fantastic for showing them look at all the opportunity you have right here in the Hazleton community," said Freeland Middle School teacher Denise Daniels.