TERRE HAUTE —
Ashley Linnabary, a Terre Haute South Vigo High School senior and aspiring nurse, is already preparing for her future vocation through an unpaid internship at Terre Haute Regional Hospital.
Four days a week, she shadows a patient care technician, assisting with taking vital signs, changing beds, helping patients with hygiene and doing “a little bit of everything” to make patients more comfortable.
“I really like it. They show me a lot,” said Linnabary, who hopes to study nursing at Ivy Tech Community College.
Linnabary is one of 10 South Vigo students interning at the hospital through a Community Work Skills Training (CWST) program offered by Covered Bridge Special Education District in partnership with about 78 businesses and agencies.
Regional Hospital began serving as a worksite for South Vigo students this school year. Students intern there two hours a day, Tuesday through Friday. The 10 students work in different hospital settings, including dietetics and imaging services. One student delivers newspapers to patients.
“There are endless jobs at a hospital. Endless. We’ve been blessed that they opened their doors and let us come in,” said Courtney Carson, a Covered Bridge employment specialist. The students will learn job skills at the hospital for the entire school year.
“We’re hoping they turn into jobs for students,”
The students went through an orientation, drug testing and a tuberculosis test. “They’ve been treated like a new employee,” Carson said.
The CWST program is open to juniors and seniors in the four school districts served by Covered Bridge: Vigo County, Southwest Parke, South Vermillion and Rockville. Currently, 89 students participate, typically at work sites closer to their school.
Terri Nutgrass, Regional’s director of human resources, said the partnership benefits both students and the hospital. “It’s a privilege to be part of these children’s lives.”
Also, Nutgrass said, “Anything we can teach with regard to work skills training will continue to benefit them far beyond our interaction with them.”
Carson described it as a “win-win situation.” The students gain the education and work experience, while the business benefits from the extra help.
Each student is assigned an employment specialist who serves as a liaison between the classroom and the business. Some students also have an educational assistant.
The students receive accommodations, based on their needs, so they can be successful at their work site. Sometimes, it might take a few months to find the right accommodation, Carson said.
Students are matched with internships based on their goals. One South Vigo student, Taylor Bryan, is interning in imaging services, which fits in with his goal of studying radiation technology at Ivy Tech.
On Tuesday morning, South Vigo student Danny Boyce put pepperoni on small pizzas as part of his internship in dietetics. “I do a good job here,” he said. After he graduates from high school, he’d like to have a job at the hospital, he said.
Michelle Trueblood, his educational assistant, described him as “a very happy person and very reliable. He is eager to learn.” Boyce is generous, donating money to charities that serve children at Christmas, and he also gave canned goods during a Thanksgiving food drive.
“He loves giving to the community and doing things for the community,” Trueblood said. After working on pizzas, Boyce was to prepare drinks that would be delivered to hospital patients.
Students go to their job sites Tuesday through Friday; on Mondays, they are in class learning about such things as appropriate dress, attitudes and behavior for the workplace.
Back in the hospital’s intermediate care unit, Linnabary shadowed Patti Glick, a patient care technician who had much praise for the 18-year-old. “She’ll make a really good nurse. She’s willing to learn and jumps right in and wants to do it. She doesn’t hesitate,” Glick said. Linnabary always asks how she can help.
“I’m very pleased with her. I wish they all had that kind of attitude,” Glick said.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or email@example.com.