Exploring health-care careers

New patch allows Girl Scouts to get hands-on experience with patient care


Girl Scouts are a great fit for the health-care industry.

“Girl Scouts are strong, passionate leaders who make the world a better place,” said Emily Speck, program director for Girl Scouts of Colorado. “The health-care industry is made of people who also have a passion and desire to make the world a better place through keeping people healthy.”

In May, Girl Scouts of Colorado launched its Building Healthy Journeys patch program. It is in partnership with HealthONE and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children and allows Girl Scouts of all ages the opportunity to explore and experience the vast variety of health-care careers.

“Health care is more than doctors and nurses. School-age students may not know about all the opportunities there are in health care,” said Maureen McDonald, assistant vice president of community engagement for HealthONE, who helped develop the patch program. “The Building Healthy Journeys patch allows us to embrace hundreds of curious, achieving young women who aim to learn more about a career in health care.”

Through the experiential activities, the Girl Scouts get real-life, hands-on experience that illustrates myriad roles in patient care. The Girl Scouts of Colorado worked with child life specialists at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, 2001 N. High St. in Denver’s City Park West neighborhood, to create the journeys that the Girl Scouts do to earn the patch. Child life specialists work with patients and their families to help them prepare for, and respond to, various treatments, McDonald added.

Girl Scouts of all ages can participate in the program, as there are two different curriculums. Both offer the opportunity for the Girl Scouts to explore the careers and skills that make up each scenario’s community of care.

Daisies, Brownies and Juniors — Girl Scouts who are in kindergarten through fifth grade — meet Estrella, who is badly injured while hiking. Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors — Girl Scouts in middle and high school — meet Kelsi, who recently found out she has scoliosis, which is a sideways curvature of the spine, and will receive spinal surgery.

“As they follow the journey of a girl their age through her experience in a hospital setting, Girl Scouts learn about each role that meets the needs of the patient,” Speck said. “At each step, Girl Scouts complete an activity to learn a skill or knowledge that someone in that role would need to have for their job.”

Parker Girl Scout Junior Juliette Hoffman, 11, was among the first in the state to complete the Building Healthy Journeys program in early May.

It took Hoffman about two days to earn the patch and described the experience as getting to spend “a day in the life of a person working in the medical field.”

“It was really fun to see how people work on a day-to-day basis,” Hoffman said. “This really brought that to light.”

She added the activities in the patch program are relevant to real life. In fact, at about the time Hoffman was working on the patch, she had to visit an urgent care because she injured her thumb.

“After I was examined by the nurse practitioner, I was taken to another room to get an x-ray of my thumb, just like Estrella,” Hoffman said. “In my trip to the urgent care, I had several people help me along the way. If you want to help people everyday, become a health-care professional, too.”

Many Girl Scouts are interested in STEM careers in general, and the Building Healthy Journeys program is yet another way they are able to explore the many roles within health care, which is a STEM career, Speck said.

And if a Girl Scout wants to explore further, she can learn about the education needed and other requirements that make a person in a given health-care role successful, Speck said.

“Demographics in our city and state indicate that we are growing and we need more health-care workers,” McDonald said. The Building Healthy Journeys patch provides Girl Scouts with “exposure into the wide world of opportunities in health care. Early exposure to that exploration can potentially lead to further training for those who are interested.”


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