Palm Desert High School’s Health Academy is in its fourth year, providing a three-year “school within a school” focusing on health careers. Internships, which introduce students to the medical field in a workplace environment, are a significant part of the program. Students are introduced to the skills and value of work while making connections between academic learning and real-world application. The invaluable experience and skill acquisition are beneficial in pursuing either an entry-level health industry position or a college education towards that career.

During the first two years of the Health Academy, students are taught various procedures related to occupations in the medical field and are exposed to medical terminology and anatomy. Throughout the third year, Health Academy students seek internships in several fields including: dentistry, sports performance, childcare, assisted-living, veterinary medicine, physical therapy, physicians’ offices, and occupational therapy practices. The hands-on experience allows students to apply what they have learned to real-life situations. Not only does an internship allow for interaction with patients, but it is vital to remembering that the patient is always the number one priority. Internships create bonds between patients and physicians and help develop a strong sense of ethics, responsibility, communication, and recognition of the importance of confidentiality. As a result, students grow as health care professionals and as individuals.

Jessica Avalos, who will be attending UC Riverside in the fall, states she learned people skills and empathy towards patients by interning at Manor Care, a hospice care facility. “Internships encourage us to strive for success,” says Kayleen Roach who will be attending San Diego Mesa College this fall. Manuel Lopez, head student athletic trainer at Palm Desert High School (PDHS) gained much of his experience during his internship with Bryan Booth, PDHS athletic trainer. “Not all athletes will treat you with respect due to their level of pain when injured, but in order to treat them, you must remain patient and calm.”

“I have learned so much at Kinetix Health and Performance Center,” states Isabella Clayton, who will be attending University of Northern Colorado in the fall, “but the most important thing I learned was how to run a business.”

PDHS Health Academy is working to further develop the program by expanding the number of internships available. When businesses and health professionals become engaged with career pathway programs such as these, the whole community benefits as students graduate more prepared for college, career and life.

Health care professionals represent approximately 12% of our region’s workforce. These programs help to connect local students to the health care needs of the Coachella Valley in hopes that they will stay or return to become health care leaders of our future.

For more information about these programs or to offer an internship with your business, please contact Donna Sturgeon at The Coachella Valley Economic Partnership: Donna@cvep.com (760) 340.1575.

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