Reflections on Teens Exploring Careers Camp

By Laura Baker, President of the CyberWyoming Alliance

Last week, I had the real pleasure of meeting teenage women from across the State and from Texas (yes one camper came all the way from the Fort Worth area) at the Teens Exploring Careers camp. Not only was I impressed with their leadership, team building, and problem solving skills, I left excited for this generation to take over our country.

The highlight, for me, was when the campers worked in the mock hospital theater with actors playing 10 patients throughout the afternoon. The campers roles included Admissions, Marketing, Human Resources, Compliance, Billing, IT, Social Work, Pharmacy, ER Nurses, ER Docs, Radiology Technologist, and Radiologist. Software we custom developed for the camp was used on a closed network with laptops for the campers to use and communicate.

Three highlights that really made me laugh!

Candy ‘Theft’

The pharmacist’s drug dispensation was actually Skittles. Our mock patients that got pain relievers were really excited to get a treat! But, as you know, Skittles are irresistible, and the Radiology Technologist grabbed a handful and was reported to the Compliance Officer for stealing drugs. This led to an entire employee policy and ethics discussion the next day that included creating policies for fireable offenses. I want to thank the one camper that took us up on the Skittles challenge! She definitely created drama, and that is what we wanted.

Having toured the Casper hospital earlier in the morning, the campers learned about the security protocols for hospital pharmacies and were impressed with how locked down the rooms were as well as the limited access. Later in the day, the campers learned from a guest speaker about how a long power outage at the hospital caused the electronic doors to the pharmacy to lock automatically. With a patient needing an EpiPen immediately, the staff considered breaking the window to get into the room. There was a manual key, but the manager who knew its location was on leave and unreachable. Fortunately the staff found the manual key and was able to access the EpiPen in time.

Perceived Pay Inequities

When payroll slips were handed out to the teens performing their roles, there was such an outrage in pay disparities that the CEO had to remind the campers that patients were still in the hospital! The difference in pay between the Radiology Technologist and the Radiologist caused a formal complaint to be filed to HR and the CEO. Admissions was flabbergasted that she only made $19 per hour when she had so many important tasks to perform. The indignation was lively, and I found the arguments some of the campers made to be absolutely priceless! Logic did not go out the window, and some campers made a formal presentation to the CEO for a raise. (Unfortunately, the patients were waiting in the ER while their affront was being expressed.)

In fact, we are modifying the roles in the camp curriculum to include a pay study so the pay complaints can be discussed in the second day of the hospital scenario. It is a good real-world exercise and will give the campers an opportunity to present their case and see pay averages by profession across the nation.

Ransomware

When ransomware hit mid-afternoon, the huddle the campers formed and the ideas generated were inspiring! Some campers observed that their jobs became easier, like Admissions, while others like Billing became much harder. Despite the planning in the huddle, Billing was forgotten. The biller had to ask each patient what services they received to create a bill and get the patient out the door. It was a great learning experience for all the campers who worked so hard to perform their roles accurately.

Oddly, the room seemed to settle down without the electronic medical records system. In the debriefing, we asked if their stress levels were reduced after the software became inaccessible. The answer was almost a unanimous ‘yes’. After the mock hospital scenario was finished, a guest speaker gave a presentation about the evolution of electronic medical records system. The next day, the campers talked about the information she conveyed and speculated that the real hospital personnel may feel like the software was cumbersome as well. They wondered if hospital software was designed by an IT person, not a person truly familiar with job functions and the hospital flow.

Life Changing

Probably the highest praise for the Teens Exploring Careers camp was when some of the campers said “I loved my role and I want to pursue this as a career” while others said “I hated my role and now I know what I don’t want to do!” Most 18 year olds don’t know their career path or their strengths and weaknesses. Placing them in this experiential camp showed them where they shine.

One shy camper, who wants to be an elementary school teacher, managed to speak in her outside voice to complete strangers during the mock hospital theater and said “if this doesn’t cure me of my social anxiety, I don’t know what will!”

That alone was worth the time it took to develop the camp! I’m grateful to the the campers for sharing their thoughts with us.

Daniel’s Fund

Thanks so much to the Daniels Fund for making this experiential camp become a reality. In August, TeenExploreCareer.info will be live and any community college or university can receive the camp curriculum for free. For a small fee, the CyberWyoming Alliance will rent the pre-set computers and network equipment to those that want to schedule a camp.

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