Summer student workers STEP into action for career previews
In bright yellow scrubs that serve as an emblem of Carle’s Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) program, Clayton Christian brings a playful demeanor to the Carle Digestive Health Center.
The STEP program has now been running for four years, starting out with 10 individuals but has now grown to include 20 workers each consecutive year. During eight to twelve weeks in the summer, invaluable work skills and relationships will be gained that can be beneficial to STEP workers future endeavors.
As an active participant in STEP, Christian is gaining valuable exposure and experience in healthcare.
“He’s grown to be a mentor to the other STEP worker in the department. He gives feedback and even provides encouraging words to other team members,” said Loralee Kelsey, RN, Digestive Health Institute (DHI) manager.
STEP gives students the opportunity to test drive healthcare careers by engaging in patient-centered care. STEP workers serve as an intermediary between Carle staff and their patients while they work as medical assistants, patient transporters, administrative assistants and lab technicians, as well as environmental and food service workers.
Kerry Steffes, RN, DHI supervisor, appreciates the additional staffing and notes STEP participants are willing to step into action whenever needed.
“The STEP program is a mutually beneficial experience and is a great way to help through the summer months,” said Steffes.
As Christian’s supervisor, she has seen him become a fully acclimated team member.
Loralee said, “I have seen a lot of growth from Christian and can see that he has matured throughout the process of the STEP program.”
Christian said, “I am one of the first people patients see so it’s nice to make a good impression. I like to have fun with it. It adds to the atmosphere of the department.”
As a medical assistant, Christian helps with checking in patients, taking vitals and getting patients settled into exam rooms.
“We discuss any interest a STEP student might have in the interview so we can creating learning experiences for them that pertain to interests or future goals in healthcare,” said Steffes.
Loralee said, “While rooming a patient last week, a patient complained of chest pain and Christian sought help, immediately recognizing the urgency of the situation.”
The skills learned through the STEP experience by Christian, gave him the confidence to a better outcome for this patient during their interaction.
In addition to patient-centered care, Christian enjoys bringing forth a lighthearted ambiance to the department.
“This is a heavily female-dominated work environment, and Christian and provides a peaceful and calm environment with a touch of fun,” said Loralee.
“The STEP program gives me insight on how things work in an actual hospital environment opposed to learning in a classroom,” said Christian.
Christian is studying nursing at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and the STEP program allows him to see nurses in action while also they’re teaching him to be a better medical assistant.
“I’d tell anyone considering the STEP program to do it. Even if you choose not to pursue a medical career, it gives you an amazing experience,” said Christian.