August 22 at 1:11pm

Tri-City Hospital Welcomes Interfaith Interns

For young people who struggle with financial troubles, homelessness, or learning disabilities, or who live a community with high crime rates, it can feel very difficult to find a way to build a stable life and career after high school. This year, the Working Pirates program at Oceanside High School is helping nine students start to move into the working world as high school ends. Working Pirates is a part-time paid work program facilitated by the Transitional Youth Academy at Interfaith Community Services, in conjunction with Tri-City Medical Center. Through the program, students at the school can apply for part-time paid positions at Tri-City, where they can start to gain work experience and learn about financial independence. The Transitional Youth Academy has worked with Oceanside High School for four years to better address the needs of students who have been identified as good candidates for some extra guidance and structure in their lives.

TYA works with students who have had trouble in the school system, have learning disabilities, have experienced homelessness or poverty, or who are considered at-risk of becoming involved with gangs. Natalie Hill, clinical academic coordinator at Tri-City, has supervised students since 2010. She notes that many of the students are shy when they start, and may be nervous about the acclimation to working life after high school. This program allows students to gain confidence in their social interactions, and to face some of their uncertainties about moving into the workplace. Recent high school graduate Raquel M., who would one day like to be a nurse, says that her experience working at Tri-City has benefited her both professionally and personally. “It has given me some familiarity with how the hospital system works, what everyone does, and how the different departments function,” she said. “It will give me a chance to go on to something I am really interested in, and it shows future employers that I am trying to learn and go after new opportunities.”

It will give me a chance to go on to something I am really interested in, and it shows future employers that I am trying to learn and go after new opportunities.

TYA connects with candidates through the school’s Health Academy class. Students are encouraged to apply based on grades, their willingness to work towards selfimprovement, and their circumstances. Through the program, students can work in non-clinical areas in the hospital such as the food and nutrition department, outpatient behavioral health, supply chain management, the education department, and the wound care center in service and administrative positions. Hill mentions that “these students are impressive all the way around. We have noticed consistently that they are very computer savvy and all of them have exceeded our expectations.” Many of their student employees go on to do very well after the program. Many have gone on to attend college, while others have found jobs or have joined the military. One has even found placement at Tri-City after completing a work experience program.

Graduating senior Brenda G. was already working at Tri-City through a separate internship program when she came to the Working Pirates program. She says that her experience has been extremely beneficial. “It has given me more of a well-rounded perspective on the medical field. I don’t just see it like a patient anymore,” she says. “I can see that it’s really an environment that appeals to me professionally. I am a very independent person, but seeing how everyone cooperates here has made me a more sociable person, which will help me as I move on to college.” She plans to attend UCLA in the fall to study neuroscience. “Not only has it benefited me financially as I can now I take care of my own bills,but it has also exposed me to many medical professions that I was unaware of before,” Brenda G. adds. “It has helped me learn about more options and the reality of health care.”Oftentimes, students bring what they learn at Tri-City back to the classroom. Oceanside High teacher Kim Roy, who knew many of the student employees through her Health Academy Class, has observed that as the school year progressed, student employees would become more inclined to participate in class discussions, often bringing their experiences from Tri-City into the conversation.

The Working Pirates program at Tri-City is distinct from an internship in that it offers students financial compensation for their work, rather than academic credit. It is meant to prepare them to join the working world in any capacity, and is not targeted towards students who are necessarily interested in pursuing medical careers. For many students, the program will present an opportunity to learn about many different types of jobs, and to gain skills in office administration and customer interactions that will be applicable to many other jobs later. Recent graduate Brenda M., who will be working towards a career in law enforcement at UC Santa Barbara in the fall, says that “It’s important to seek out this kind of experience. It can help anyone get where they want to go in the future.