Summer program gives students hands-on experience in health field

Summer program gives students hands-on experience in health field
Garett Fisbeck
Trisha McVicker reads to Abby Gonzales as part of the Volume Summer Program at The Children's Center in BethanyTuesday, June 14, 2016.

Mattie Mallory founded the Donald W. Reynolds Complex in Bethany, which serves children with complex medical needs.

In 1893, Mallory saw a need for an orphanage in Oklahoma. She adjusted the mission of the center through the years to fill changing demands; it has helped children suffering from polio and has been a convalescent home. Today, the center has a higher rate of kids with complex medical needs compared to other states, and that’s the private nonprofit’s primary focus, explained Danielle Dunn, The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital Oklahoma public relations coordinator.

Her dedication showed as she explained the history of the center.

One of her colleagues is hospital volunteer coordinator Amy Coldren. Like Dunn, her passion to help youth is obvious. Her mission is to offer meaningful volunteer opportunities for high school students.

Helping youth

Coldren said her office often receives calls and inquiries asking about volunteer work, but youth must be at least 17 years old to help out. So in 2015, Coldren teamed up with Leadership Oklahoma City’s Young Adult Leaders (LOYAL) to help develop VOLUME (Volunteer. Observe. Learn. Unify. Mentor. Explore). In addition to planning the structure of VOLUME, Coldren received help from LOYAL in choosing students for the program. VOLUME is an inclusive and exciting educational opportunity students couldn’t get elsewhere.

“There are really not a lot of opportunities for high school students to spend time with patients,” Coldren said. “There are a lot of other opportunities for them to volunteer in kind of a guest services role, but here, they get to work one-on-one with our patients at bedside.”

VOLUME includes 24 students from across the metro area and gives them hands-on experience in a hospital setting. Through June and July, the teens go to the center Tuesday and Thursday mornings for job shadowing, character building and bedside work. In the last hour of each shift, they hear presentations about different disciplines. Coldren talked about how the students would learn about speech therapy that day. Presentations cover speech, physical and occupational therapy, social services and communications. She said the communications presentation addresses living a life of purpose.

Student volunteers

Coldren said the two dozen student participants travel from as far as Yukon, Piedmont, Edmond and Deer Creek. Applications are accepted from area public, charter and private schools, and this summer’s volunteer class includes students from 13 schools.

“We have [students from] Bishop McGuinness, Heritage Hall, Classen School of Advanced Studies, Southeast High School, Southwest Covenant,” Coldren said.

Trisha McVicker will be a senior at Piedmont High School this fall and aspires to become a pediatric nurse after she graduates. She said she followed The Children’s Center on social media and saw a post about VOLUME applications. She said she also heard about the program from her uncle, who works down the street from the center. She enjoys being in the program.

“It’s been amazing,” she said. “This hospital is so full of love and hope for the children.”

Julia Guild, a senior at Carl Albert High School in Midwest City, was respectful and contained, even while being interrupted during her bedside rotation, in which students spend one-on-one time with patients. Guild said the program has shed light on future career plans because it helped her realize she loves working with children. Though she always wanted to be a doctor, she said this program also showed her she prefers to spend more one-on-one time with the children than a physician might be able to. She is now looking more seriously into nursing.

This is VOLUME’s second year.

For more information about The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital and VOLUME, visit

Print headline: Vital practice, A local training program gives high school students real-world experience in patient care.

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