CONWAY — The future of the medical field is in good hands thanks to students enrolled in the Health Science Technology program at the Mount Washington Valley Career and Technical Center at Kennett High School.
On Jan. 17, students in Tom Bruno’s class took part in a mock interview process with four medical professionals to give them an idea of what it would be like in the real world.
According to Bruno: “Students needed to complete a letter of recommendation for a peer; write a resume using terminology related to the health field in their job descriptions such as risk, safety, infection control, responsibility etc.; write a cover letter that includes a quote from their peer's letter of recommendation; provide a transcript from a college they would like to attend and describe a class of interest in that transcript; find 10 questions commonly asked for the job they have chosen to pursue and research how to best answer those questions; and finally present a two-to-three-minute presentation to the class about why they chose a particular health-care field,” Bruno said.
“The culmination of the unit was to interview with a person in the health-care industry,” he said.
Visiting the class last week were Dr. Matt Dunn, chief medical information officer and medical director of the emergency department at Memorial Hospital; Beth Carpenter, SHRM-CP, senior recruiter/talent acquisition partner for Memorial Hospital; and Colby Locke of Mountain Center Physical Therapy and the athletic trainer at Kennett High School; and Julie Van Dyne of the new Mt. Washington Valley Adult Day Care Center. All came away impressed.
“I interviewed five students,” said Dunn, a Kennett alumni. “They were well-prepared, knew their material and did a great job. I was impressed at how they conducted themselves during the interviews.”
“It was a pleasure to meet and interview the health science students,” Carpenter said. “I met future nurses, health professionals and physicians; it’s great to see such passion for health care from our local youth. They are choosing this path because they are caring, compassionate individuals who want to help people and make a difference.
“I thought that the interviews went really well,” said Locke, a Fryeburg Academy alumnus. “My group was very passionate about their chosen career path and gave great examples from their past to help justify why they had picked the field they were going into.”
He added: “The highlight for me was seeing the broad spectrum career paths chosen by the students. My group wanted to be a midwife, a dermatologist and a wound care specialist. To me, that shows that kids are thinking bigger and selecting paths that are different from one another."
“The students did very well with their interviews,” said Van Dyne. “As a whole, they were dressed appropriately, and confidently answered typical interview questions."
She added: “Tom Bruno did an excellent job helping them to prepare for real-life situations."
The career goals of the students are as follows: Sophomore Jordan Meier wants to be a immunologist; sophomore Abigail Novak wants to be a pediatric nurse; sophomore Lily Orth wants to be a wound care specialist and eventually develop her own treatment for wounds; senior Brianna Goldblatt plans to be a graphic artist but also an EMT; sophomore Sydney Deblois-Hill wants to be a pediatrician; sophomore Ava DiFranco wants to be an oncologist; sophomore Taylor Gaudette wants to be a neonatologist; sophomore Jozelyn Henry wants to be a traveling pediatrician; sophomore Isabell Eaton wants to be an athletic trainer; senior Medea Gargon wants to be a general nurse; and junior Jade Grant, a geriatric nurse.
The Eagles, who had working on the interviews since November, admitted to some jitters but found the process to be worthwhile.
“It was a really good experience,” Novak said, “especially with all of the important people Mr. Bruno had come in.”
“He brought in the big wigs,” Goldblatt quipped.
“Mr. Bruno really prepared us for it, but on interview day, it was really nerve-racking,” said Meier.
Students prepared for 10 questions from the interviewers, thinking they would be asked two. Dr. Dunn asked all 10.
“In a situation that can be challenging for anyone, I was impressed at their ability to communicate clearly both in verbal and body language,” Dunn said.
“Looking someone in the eye, being engaging and answering questions about yourself is a very important skill. I interview many people in my position — many people do not do this well.
Novak said although it was scary going into the interview, Dr. Dunn "was actually really nice. It was just scary because Mr. Bruno hyped him up so much."
“It was a really good practice,” DiFranco said.
Virginia Schrader, director of the MWV Career and Technical Center, was impressed with how the Eagles handled themselves and likes that Bruno is giving them real-world experiences.
“They were very nervous, but afterward they were quite pleased with themselves and really valued the experience,” she said. “One student even said to me, ‘Oh my gosh, I feel so good about myself; the rest of today will be great.’”
Schrader added: “Being able to interview with real-world professionals brings validity to the process which I believe makes the students much more aware of the importance of mastering these skills.
"The students were nervous, but they were very well-prepared and performed admirably. This process takes place in most CTE classes — typically using advisory committee members and/or various volunteer members of business and industry in the valley.”
The program had been on life support three years ago with just a handful of students before Bruno took over.
With Bruno, class size went from 49 students last year to 80 students with a waiting list, and the Conway School Board is working to make Bruno’s position full-time in the 2020-21 budget.