RANTIN: Lexington Medical offers glimpse into health care careers

brantin@thestate.com (803) 771-8306June 28, 2014 

Elizabeth Tesh isn’t tired of making the rounds.

In fact, after taking patient vital signs, shadowing physicians and learning about various medical procedures through a hands-on hospital rotation, she’s more determined than ever to pursue a long-held dream to be a nurse.

Tesh has spent the last three weeks in the hallways, examination rooms and laboratories of Lexington Medical Center’s intensive care unit, radiology department and oncology division. Along the way, she learned about excellence in patient care.

The Irmo High School student is one of approximately 60 exceptional students across the county participating in the hospital’s “Partners Program,” which concluded the first of two sessions Friday. The competitive summer internship, that’s now in its 24th year, provides an extensive view into various careers in the health care industry.

“I’ve gotten to see so many possible medical things that can happen,” Tesh said. “Teamwork is a big part of what goes on here.”

During two three-week sessions, the students rotate among three clinical specialties based largely on individual interests) and participate in hands-on activities at the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Midlands Technical College and Lexington Medical Center Extended Care. They also tour the Lexington Medical Center laboratory, view a virtual surgery and take part in team-building activities.

Jon Bridges knows the potential benefits of that kind of exposure.

Bridges, the associate director of Lexington Oncology, was part of the Partners Program while at Brookland-Cayce High School and is one of several former participants who now serve as mentors in the program.

“We try to make sure they have a full experience so they are not just getting a tunnel vision of the (medical) practice,” he said.

While focusing on the specifics of medical science, Bridges explained, the program also stresses such things as the importance of patient care and compassion.

“The science part is hard enough,” he said. “But being able to hold someone’s hand while they are going through a terminal illness, that’s really what sets the medical field apart.”

Tesh said that aspect of her experience was especially meaningful.

“I’ve gotten to really talk with patients and bond with them and I really like that part,” she said “This experience has definitely confirmed my wanting to be in the medical field.”

Lexington High School’s Jake Vining echoed those sentiments after completing rotations in the emergency room, an in-patient floor and in endoscopy/cystoscopy.

“I’ve gotten to follow around some great doctors in the past few weeks,” said Vining, whose mother is a nurse and whose interest in medicine was sparked during a career program in elementary school. “There is so much critical thinking going on. Your brain is constantly working.”

But one of his greatest lessons, he said, was the satisfaction of helping others.

“That’s the feeling you love,” he said.

Bridges said while the program has allowed the students to explore the medical field more deeply, it’s also reinforced the passion of the professionals working with them.

“The (students’) energy in what we do helps us refresh ourselves in what we teach,” he said.

The Partners Program is supported jointly by Lexington Medical Center Foundation, the Safety Council of South Carolina and Colonial Life & Accident Insurance company.

This year, it had more than 100 applicants. At its end, a rising senior from each participating public high school and another from a home or private school will receive a $1,000 book scholarship for their freshman year of college.

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