WORTHINGTON — Students looking for a career in health care found an array of options in nursing, occupational therapy and their many specializations at Wednesday’s Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s Nursing and OTA Camp in Worthington.
Twenty-two prospective students attended the event, which included a tour of Sanford Worthington Medical Center and Sanford Worthington Therapy and Rehabilitation, as well as a look at Minnesota West’s nursing and occupational therapy assistant program facilities in Worthington.
Dee Telkamp, RN manager for emergency department and respiratory therapy at Sanford Worthington, took a group of students around the hospital, showing them where they could potentially be working if they went into health care.
“If health care is a field that you’re interested in down the road, I really encourage you to think about ‘What can I do to start building my resume now?’ and to really see what’s out there for (you) to do,” Telkamp advised.
Telkamp’s tour included a stop in a typical patient room with an unusual patient. According to the “huddle board,” a white board placed in each room that gives hospital staff important information about the patient, the room belonged to Santa Claus. Other information on the board included the day of the week, family names and contacts, health care team names and goals, like getting strong enough to be discharged by Christmas, as well as dietary requirements, like Santa’s “Christmas cookies only” diet.
A typical patient room includes one or two beds — Santa’s had two — and some of the newer beds are equipped with weight systems that can be set to trigger an alarm if a patient leaves the bed, helping reduce their risk of falling, Telkamp explained. Patients in the older beds instead have a clip attached to their gowns leading to a monitor that makes a beeping noise if a patient pulls the clip away when leaving the bed.
“We have two hospitalists who work here,” Telkamp said. “They work 12-hour shifts, and they work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for seven days, and then they’re off for seven days.”
At night, the hospital primarily uses a telehealth program, allowing doctors to visit patients remotely.
“We usually have about 12 to 16 patients a day in the hospital, so that keeps everybody pretty busy. Typical staffing is about three nurses and one CNA or assistant on all the time,” Telkamp said. “So it takes a lot of people to staff that 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Students learned about the different areas in the hospital, such as the Radiology Department, the Women’s Center and the Emergency Department, where they stopped for a few minutes to inspect the interior of an ambulance.
Therapy and rehabilitation
Kara Kramer, a doctor of occupational therapy, and Alyssa DeKay, registered occupational therapist, led the students on a tour of Sanford Worthington Therapy and Rehabilitation, across the street from the hospital.
“We work on getting people back to their independence,” DeKay said, explaining their work.
Kramer listed some of the many opportunities for people in occupational therapy, including both inpatient and outpatient work with young people and the very old.
“It’s a field of endless opportunities,” DeKay added.
They showed students the gym, where patients can work with staff to improve their balance, strength or range of motion, and a treatment room, where patients can get a paraffin treatment. Several students opted to try the paraffin, dipping their hands into the hot, waxy fluid multiple times before their hands were loosely wrapped in order to retain the heat longer. The treatment can help relieve pain and stiffness through heat and improve flexibility and range of motion.
DeKay also showed students a room often used for working with pediatric patients, featuring a swing and toys designed to allow for therapeutic play.
One of the students asked if she and Kramer enjoyed their jobs, and both women said yes. DeKay emphasized how rewarding it is to see people improve over time.
“It’s really cool seeing them meet their goals,” Kramer agreed. “I love it.”
Students attending the camp also got to view the new OTA lab and classrooms at Minnesota West. The OTA program is new to the college, with its first class of students set to begin in May.