SITKA – Recently, SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) welcomed sixteen Alaska Native/American Indian high school students to learn about health careers. The students participated in the 2016 Ethel Lund Village Health Occupations Program (VHOP) that took place from April 18 – 21 in Sitka.

Each year, the Southeast-area Native students selected by SEARHC for VHOP spend nearly a week at the SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital learning about different health careers and educational opportunities in healthcare. This year’s group is one of the largest to date and included one student from as far away as Shawnee, Kansas; a suburb in the Greater Kansas City area. Other students represented Angoon, Craig, Juneau, Klawock, and Sitka.

The students job shadowed in various departments, and also spent some time with the UAS-Sitka Nursing program. The program closed with each student delivering a speech about what they learned and what they especially enjoyed while participating in the VHOP program. Students received certificates showing their successful completion of the program during a “graduation” event on Thursday, April 21.

“It has been a pleasure to have these students shadow our providers and show so much interest in healthcare as a possible career choice,” said SEARHC Tribal Recruiter, Freddie Olin. “These young men and women energize our staff by wanting to learn about the work they do.”

The health field is growing, which means plenty of job opportunities for those with the right training. Health-related careers usually offer good pay and employee benefits, as well as the satisfaction of helping others. The goal of VHOP is to cultivate and encourage an interest in healthcare, and the hope is for future health careers to grow from those efforts.

For more information about VHOP and how students can enroll in next year’s program, contact Freddie Olin at folin@searhc.org or (907) 463- 6609 or visit the VHOP web page.