Ny’Kerria Virgin always harbored an interest in the health care field. On Friday, the West Florida High senior may have just discovered her calling.
“I like this. It’s the best hands-on activity I’ve done all day,” Virgin said as she was suturing a mock wound during the 20th annual Health Career Fair held at Pensacola State College’s Warrington campus. “I’ve seen a lot today but the surgical tech program has really grabbed my interest.”
Virgin was among the more than 500 high school and GED students from five counties to attend the health career fair. Students rotated through 14 health career opportunities including physical therapy assisting, radiography, phlebotomy, pharmacy, nursing, EMT, sonography and dental hygiene.
Sponsored by Pensacola State and West Florida Area Health Education Centers, the event provided a first-hand look at health career options for students from Escambia, Santa Rosa, Walton and Okaloosa counties as well as Baldwin County, Alabama.
“It’s a great way to learn about careers in healthcare. You get to hear and see for yourself what you need to do in order to have a career in the medical field,” said Angela Moore, a 17-year-old enrolled in Pensacola State’s GED preparatory classes. “I want to be a registered nurse but right now I’m seriously considering PSC’s phlebotomy program to help me get my foot in the door.”
Vivian Howard, Moore’s mother, also attended the health career fair and said she wants to work in direct patient care.
“I want to become an LPN, and after seeing everything here today, I’m thinking Pensacola State may be the college for me,” said Howard, who was a certified nursing assistant before moving to Florida several years ago.
“It would be wonderful for Angela and me to be at the same college. We could provide support and encouragement to each other – just being there and understanding what the other is going through and trying to accomplish. In fact, my goal is to start classes in January here.”
The health career fair was held from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and LifeGuard 1 Helicopter also was on-site for the students to explore.
Jennifer Ponson, Warrington Coordinator of Student and Program Outreach, said the health career fair gives these students an opportunity to speak with college instructors about the programs that interest them.
“Touching human lungs, seeing a simulation ‘baby’ being delivered and assembling a puzzle of human body X-rays are only some of the hands-on activities these students get a chance to experience at this event,” Ponson added. “Having that experience sometimes makes it clearer to potential students where their strengths are and what career they should pursue.”