Program gives students experience in field

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Steve O’Brien/Texas Health Resources
Emily Purcell, a North Central Texas College student, works with a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas where she is a patient care technician.

Emily Purcell said she’s always wanted to become a nurse.

Growing up, the Lewisville woman said she’s seen the compassion and love her mother, a nurse of more than30 years, has had for the job — making her want to pursue a career in the samefield.

Purcell, a student at North Central Texas College in Corinth, works part time as a patient care technician at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, a job she was offered after completing training through the hospital’s Youth Prodigy Program. She said she hopes one day to have a career with a specialty in pediatrics.

Established in 2006, the Youth Prodigy Program, which is administered by Texas Health Resources’ Center for Learning and Career Development, offers training and employment for peoplewith an interest in obtaining an associate’s degree in nursing before going onto pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“I would say it is an awesome jump-start mainly for the fact that we’re getting so much experience before nursing school. I think it’s a great program,” 19-year-old Purcell said.

Through Feb. 18, Texas Health Resources is accepting applications from students interested in joining theYouth Prodigy Program.

Every summer, the program starts a new cohort and a maximum of 25 applicants are selected for the program, said Kevin Kiley, the Youth Prodigy Program manager and career and management development manager at Texas Health Resources.

The vast majority of applicants are recent high school graduates, and Texas Health Resources looksto select applicants for the Youth Prodigy Program who are strong in academics,have a clear dedication and drive to become a nurse and who have strong interpersonal and communication skills, he said.

The program is designed to attract young people to the nursing profession and to alleviate a nursing shortage that will continue to worsen as baby boomers reach retirement,according to a news release.

Program participants are paid while participating in an eight- to 10-week summer training session. Once the students pass a national patient care technician certification exam, they applyfor paid part-time jobs at a Texas Health hospital.

While working part time and attending school, the health system covers tuition, fees, books and supply expenses the students incur, through its tuition reimbursement program.

“It’s a design pathway with the full support of Texas Health that enables them to earn a career in nursing,” Kiley said. “One of the reasons Texas Health Resources invests in this program ... is we know these people in this Prodigy Program go on to be exceptional nurses.”

Approximately 100 people are currently involved in the Youth Prodigy Program by either taking prerequisite courses to become a nurse, are in nursing school or they have received their license and are working as a nurse for Texas Health.

Taylor Douglas is a19-year-old patient care technician at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas who was accepted into the Youth Prodigy Program last April, along with Purcell.

Being a part of the program,he said, gives him a leg up in being more ready and prepared for the workforce. The Trophy Club man is attending the Tarrant County College Northwest Campus and works a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift at the hospital three times a week.

He’s pursuing a career in forensic pathology, he said.

Douglas said the Youth Prodigy Program has taught him what it means to be organized and to manage time. He said it also affords him the opportunity to see things on the job that he’s learning in class.

For more information on the Youth Prodigy Program and to obtain an application, visit www.TexasHealth.org/Prodigy.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.


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