They may not fill the halls at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, but nearly 100 Chicago Public Schools students are still filling their heads with information about a future in health care.
“For me personally, I want to become a neurologist,” said Bukola Rinola, a recent graduate of South Shore International College Prep and one of the CPS students and graduates taking part in a revamped internship program.
“We're making it happen and the reason for it is, we feel these students, now more than ever, they need this,” said Maria Rivera, manager of Community Engagement and Workforce Education at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
The internship program goes back 20 years. Normally, the students would job shadow, but the pandemic put the brakes on that.
“But they didn't cancel it. They made it a virtual experience. And so far, it’s going phenomenal, like, I really love it,” Rinola said.
Students were either mailed or picked up their supplies for the six-week program that was moved entirely online.
“They're still learning how to suture. We mailed them everything. They have everything they need, and they're suturing,” Rivera said.
Seminars include social media do’s and don't's, plus hearing first hand from a variety of healthcare professionals.
Those involved say the program is even more important during the pandemic.
“This pandemic is affecting predominantly black and brown populations and this program serves predominantly black and brown students,” Angel Alcazar said.
Alcazar finished the internship program nearly a dozen years ago. Shortly after getting his nursing assistant certification, he began working at Lurie, first on the clinical side and now he’s administrative coordinator for Lurie’s Healthy Communities initiative.
“We're investing and planting the seed in these young adults, with the hopes that they'll come back,” Rivera said.
After her internship ends mid-August, Rinola will attend George Washington University on a full-ride scholarship, eyeing a future in medicine. “You can impact different lives by doing different things in the healthcare field,” Rinola said, proving inspiration can come in many forms, even virtually.