Seven Huntington High School science research program students participated in this year’s Northwell Health Spark! Challenge, exposing members of the group to a variety of career opportunities in healthcare.
Andrew McKenzie, Evelyn Hernandez, Hannah Avidor, Kemberlin Hernandez-Veliz, Mackenzie Joseph, Mya Davis and Claudia Villatoro were all able to experience a typical day in the life of a medical professional.
The Huntington contingent made many connections along the way. The group was able to learn how Northwell Health’s “core values influence the way they deliver care every day,” according to the organization.
“Prior to this competition we first took a field trip to a clinic where we found out that our project would be focused colorectal surgeons,” Ms. Hernandez said. “Throughout the trip into the office, I realized how much work goes on there throughout the day and how much care the nurses and doctors provide to the patients. After I left the building, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare to help people and make them feel better.”
The team from Huntington created a poster board and video, brochures, business cards and even an “operation game” as part of their project. “When the day of the competition came the whole team was very excited,” Ms. Hernandez said. “We all tried our best to be successful.”
“I was so nervous, but happy at the same time,” said Ms. Hernandez-Veliz about the day of the competition. Ms. Villatoro said that “although it was a lot of work along the way, it was so worth it afterwards.”
This year’s 5th annual Spark! Challenge drew more than 900 juniors and seniors from Long Island, Staten Island, Westchester and New York City. The initiative “offers high school students a unique opportunity to join one of the 74 participating Northwell departments for a day in the fall and learn hands-on about clinical and non-clinical healthcare careers from our team members,” according to Northwell.
“It was a very fun experience,” Mr. McKenzie said. “I think as someone who plans on going into a medical field, seeing all of the options and possibilities that there are available is exciting. Learning more about how the medical profession is run has helped me solidify my goals for the future. I also had a lot of fun working with my group to create the project and plan on potentially doing something similar next year.”
While Huntington’s participants explored the career field of a colorectal surgeon, others studied such fields as athletic trainer, biomedical engineer, clinical laboratory specialist, colorectal surgeon, construction project manager, corporate lawyer, CRNA, hospital executive chef, medical simulation tech, paramedic, patient experience director, pharmacist, physician assistant, research, talent sourcing specialist, ultrasound technician and many others.
“During the competition our whole team was very excited, not because we were done with our project, but since we were able to explore many different fields in medicine,” Ms. Hernandez said. “Regardless of how much time and effort our team put into the projects, at the end of the day we all realized we did an awesome job not only to impress the judges, but for ourselves as well.”