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Students introduced to careers in health care

Intubating. Chest compression. Wrapping injuries with ace bandages.

These are not things one would typically expect high school students to know how to do. But a few dozen from schools across Lycoming County had the chance to learn during a recent health care career fair at UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport Regional Medical Center.

With fields such as radiology, nursing, pre-hospital, occupational therapy and others represented, students from Montoursville, St. John Neumann, Hughesville, South Williamsport, Sugar Valley Rural Charter and Jersey Shore had the opportunity to learn what different jobs entail, education requirements and potential salaries.

“Think about where you want to go in the future, put one foot in front of the other,” Lori Beucler, chief nursing executive for UPMC Susquehanna, told the students. “If you know what you want and you want to know how to get there, we’re here to help you.”

A group of paramedics showed students how to intubate a patient, a relatively common procedure meant to help a patient breathe which can be done in the hospital, in someone’s home or anywhere in between.

Jaselle Rummings, a Jersey Shore High School student, was one of the first to try her hand at the practice. Rummings and her friends, Trinity Andrus, Jozlyn Karichner and Riley Fischer are interested in careers in health care.

Rummings and Karichner both are interested in occupational therapy, while Andrus and Fischer hoped to learn more about becoming registered nurses. Athletic training or genetic counseling also may be in the stars for Karichner.

“I love genetics,” she said. “Just seeing the different percentages of things that could happen to offspring is really interesting.”

Various nursing responsibilities also were on display, such as resuscitating a patient in cardiac arrest.

Amanda Smith, nurse educator for the intensive care unit, taught students a few of the rhythms an EKG might display as well as the codes thrown if something is amiss. She showed them the protocol for using the defibrillator if necessary, then taught them proper CPR.

The goal of CPR is to correct the heart’s rhythm and pump blood to the brain until the patient is in the clear, Smith said.

Rather than placing the hands somewhere near the heart and pressing, as often shown on television, the hands should go above the point where the ribs meet at the end of the breast bone. With elbows locked, press hard to the rhythm of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees or “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce, she said.

“People are surprised at how hard it is to do CPR for two minutes,” Smith said, adding that two minutes is usually about as long as a person can go before asking someone else to take over. “You see it on TV, but compressing the chest two inches for two minutes — it’s a workout!”

Although trauma care was primarily featured, there are numerous paths one could take as a nurse, said Melissa Furman, another nurse educator.

“A lot of people don’t know how many directions nursing can go in,” she said, listing possibilities such as bedside nursing, plant/factory occupational health and more.

Students were warned that health care can be hard, whether because of unpleasant patients or heartbreaking outcomes.

“It’s not always pretty, it’s not always fun and games,” Beucler said. “But we have to put our feelings aside.”

However, learning to overcome the negative comes with time and experience, and is well worth it, she said.