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LINCOLN - Lincoln Community High School students have taken a hands-on approach to learning about the medical field.

Nine high school students have completed their thirdn;week of a six-week program at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, where one day a week in various units, trying out scenarios to learn about medical careers.

This is the first time the program has been offered for high school students.n;A junior high groupn;completed the program last fall.

"This program is great for young people to get involvedn;and seen;if they would consider a career in health," said Marty Ahrends, the hospital's executive director of community involvement, "It's a way for them to learn more and see what educational opportunities are available. It's been a great thing so far."

So far, the students have visited the obstetrics unit, radiology, rehabilitation, the emergency room, respiratory therapy and intensive-care unit.

Junior Melissa Ramlow is interested in becoming a pharmacist, but wanted to find out about all the possibilities in the medical field.

"I've got a little experience working as a (certified nurse assistant) at a nursing home, but this is neat because it is shows us all the different aspects," said Ramlow.

Junior Ally Fuiten also is enjoying the experience. She knows she wants to go into nursing, but isn't sure what type.

"I like seeing the different units I could work in as a nurse," said Fuiten.

Students interested in the program had to turn in an application and an essay explaining why they were interested.

"It's been for the most part what I expected, except I didn't know about all the different things we would be doing in the different units," said Ramlow.

In the rehabilitation unit, the students learned about physical and speech therapy and how their future patients might have to adapt.

They tasted water and soda with food thickener, which has to be used by many rehab patients who have trouble chewing. They also tried a blended sugar cookie, learning what it was like for patients who have to have every bit of their food blended to drink, rather than chew. They also learned to make splints.

Human resources specialist Brandy Shirley wants to track the students as they enter college and start thinking about their careers.

"That's one of our goals with this program, that we can offer them some educational support, maybe through grants or scholarships, and maybe even have them come back and work at our hospital here," said Shirley.

"It's been going pretty good so far; I think the interest is there," said Shirley. "These students have been taking some health occupation courses in school so this is just another way to help them move forward."

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