DECATUR, Ill. – As Decatur-area middle schoolers visited all the booths set up in the University Commons Banquet Rooms during Healthcare Day at Millikin University, they explored healthcare career options.
Local healthcare businesses and organizations, including the Macon County Health Department, HSHS Medical Group and Memorial Health, highlighted their services and career opportunities. A hands-on section staffed by Millikin Nursing faculty and students let the students try basic clinical techniques, like checking pulse or starting an IV.
Millikin senior Nursing student Jacey Centola staffed a table that could have added a Halloween theme to the October event.
“My table was all about wound care and the different wounds that can get inflicted in our body,” Jacey said. “Some of them are from trauma, and some are from being in the hospital and having certain complications, like pressure ulcers.”
The students had many questions for Jacey about nursing and her experience at Millikin. She also appreciated their interest in healthcare at a young age, which she also had.
“I think that they have all been very interested. I have had many about my campus life and if I liked the Nursing program. I really like it, and I knew what I wanted to do in middle school,” Jacey said. “In eighth grade, I had seizures and epilepsy and spent a lot of time in the hospital. I felt cared for and wanted to do that for others. I figured it out pretty early, and I’m glad they are getting some early experience in what we do.”
The day’s events, which were co-organized by Workforce Investment Solutions (a federally funded program that assists with the development of a workforce for Macon and DeWitt counties), kicked off with a “Day in the Life” discussion roundtable.
“The panel featured different people who worked in healthcare, and they presented about their different career paths. At this age, you just don’t know the depth and breadth of what is out there,” Workforce Investment Solutions Program Coordinator Pam Folger said. “We have hands-on experiences and people talking about their career paths, so there are multiple ways to learn about healthcare and, hopefully, it excites them. The earlier that you do that, the better.”
Jacey is balancing her studies while working as a Patient Care Technician at Decatur Memorial Hospital in the emergency room. She hopes to focus on neurology nursing following graduation, but the nursing field is full of different opportunities for her.
(Working in the ER) It is a challenge, but it helps put what I’ve learned into practice. I’ve done many things in the ER that have helped me, such as learning how to communicate (in a clinical setting),” she said. “I think the job market for nurses is very strong, and there are so many different things you can do. I may want to do ER now, but I can go to a different hospital that offers pediatrics or neurology. There are so many opportunities that have opened up.
“(Today’s events) have been fun, and it has definitely shown me how much I’ve learned here at Millikin. I’m so excited for people who want to join healthcare because it is an area that we could use some more help in.”