Helping Students Explore Health Careers

Students participating in an Explorers Program activity.

ex·plo·ra·tion. Noun. The action of traveling in or through an unfamiliar area in order to learn about it.

Most kids know that doctors and nurses work in hospitals, but many don’t realize how many other exciting, professional roles exist in an academic medical center setting.

In an effort to introduce students to a broad range of health careers and perhaps spark an interest for several of them, Cincinnati Children’s offers a Health Careers Exploring Program to area high school students. The program began in 2009 and is a partnership with the Dan Beard Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Twice a year a new group of students comes to the hospital for two hours every Wednesday for a total of eight weeks.  Each week volunteer speakers make a presentation to the students explaining their particular health-related career path and opportunities in that field. They answer questions, and provide tours of their area and/or hands-on activities.  Students suture bananas, compound “medication” (aka: Smarties candies crushed up), hold human hearts, receive EKGs and echocardiograms, tour the Emergency Department, see the hospital ambulances “up close and personal”, learn about the live animals in the Vet Services area, practice relaxation techniques used in the Psychology field, and create personal “All About Me” posters mimicking those utilized in Child Life.

I became the manager of this program in the fall of 2012, and I thoroughly enjoy being a part of this valuable opportunity. All of our speakers are truly dedicated and enthusiastic to provide engaging sessions for the students.  They do this voluntarily, out of the love of their profession and willingness to promote interest in their respective fields.

And the students?  I am so impressed that at their relatively young ages, these kids are already planning their future and discovering the various careers in health care.  They, like the speakers, are dedicated to the program. They are respectful of our presenters and always attentive and interactive with the activities. I’m proud to know them and see their response to the knowledge they’re gaining.

Some of the students are even furthering their involvement by applying to be volunteers here at the hospital, for which I have written letters of recommendation.  With this exposure to all the healthcare field has to offer, I have no doubt Cincinnati Children’s will benefit one day as these students pursue health careers.

What a wonderful tribute to our professional speakers, this program, and our youth!

Patrice Ashworth

About the Author: Patrice Ashworth

Patrice Ashworth is a Program Coordinator for Community Relations at Cincinnati Children's. In addition to managing the Explorers Program, she is engaged in the Adopt A Class efforts for the hospital. In her spare time, she is on the Executive Committee for the Friends of the Pops with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, loves the beach, is active in her community, the mother of two, and grandmother of one.

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  1. MC Mobility May 30, 04:20
    This is a good move to educate students on how healthcare opportunities knock on their lives. Keep it up! vans with wheelchair
  2. Amy Everpean May 31, 10:59
    It's so great that they offer this program to students! I feel like students need to see hands on what they are getting into. My vet at did a similar program and said it was really rewarding.
  3. Krista Morris July 05, 17:33
    I have a student that would like to participate. How do I get not information about the health career exploring program?
    • Kate Setter
      Kate Setter July 07, 11:19
      Hi Krista - Please email Patrice Ashworth, the program coordinator. Her email address is
  4. Kim Kurzhals September 01, 12:27
    This was an amazing program put on by Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Patrice Ashworth is and oustanding Program Administrator. My daughter loved her and the program! A++++++++++++++++