LEBANON — Senior Bree Couture wants to be a registered nurse.

So when word came out that Philomath High School students would be able to participate in Samaritan Health Services' Healthcare Exploration Fair, she looked forward to the opportunity to learn more about going into nursing.

"I got to help deliver the baby with the mannequin and I thought that was really cool," Couture said about the day. "That was my favorite part."

Students made their way through eight stations Wednesday covering all of the major areas of health care. One stop, the college fair, exposed students to educational options. 

Couture came to the event excited to learn.

"I want to go into the field of nursing and I was happy to get more experience and learn what's it's about and where my options are for college," she said. "I want to go to OSU and go through their general science program and then go to OHSU (Oregon Health and Science University) to get my registered nurse training."

The event at Lebanon Community Hospital brought in 160 students from eight high schools.

"Essentially, we just wanted to open up students' eyes to possible different careers in health care," said Megan Konzelman, Student Services coordinator with Samaritan Health Services. "A lot of them think that to work in health care, you either can be a doctor or a nurse, but there's really so many possibilities beyond that. We wanted to expose them to a lot of different careers and maybe different avenues that maybe they had never thought of that might pique their interest in the future."

Take PHS senior Terra Ordway. She's had her eyes on veterinary medicine but the health fair introduced her to new possibilities.

"It was really fun to learn about all of the other fields and actually, I'm not sure about what I want to do now, now that I've learned about another field that is very similar for what I want to go into," Ordway said. "It's definitely just broadened my spectrum of career options."

Ordway, who plans to attend the Oregon Institute of Technology, said she got a lot out of the radiology session.

"It was a lot of good information and had a lot of personal connections," she said. "He (the class instructor) really answered my questions; it was nice."

Konzelman said that Samaritan Health Services has done other events in the past with students, but nothing with the scope of the health fair.

"This is definitely to my knowledge the largest high school event that we've held," Konzelman said. "We've also incorporated a college fair into our career sessions. We let them get a snapshot of each different career and then they're able to talk to college representatives and grab information to apply for their programs."

Senior Reiley Reichhuber has great interest in the health-care industry.

"I think I'm going to school and become a registered nurse and then later on become either a nurse practitioner or CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist), so I'm pretty interested in that," Reichhuber said. "I've always known that from the time of being really little. Today, I was pretty excited because I was getting a little background of a lot of the different parts in the hospital and seeing what different people do throughout their day."

Reichhuber, who hopes to play softball and take classes at Linfield, called the nursing skills lab and college fair highlights of the event.

"I got to talk to some of the colleges that I've been looking at and a lot of the people that are talking, they had some cool stories to share," she said.

Opening the lines of communication between students and professionals holds great importance, Konzelman said.

"We've definitely tried the last five years to create more channels and avenues for students to participate in different types of experiences," Konzelman said. "This is one of them and we do other outreach activities at the schools and in the community and provide shadowing and all kinds of different ways to look at health care."

Junior Hannah Williams has an interest in anesthesiology and pediatric oncology.

"I've already had an idea of what I want to do but this is helping and giving me ideas on what path to take," Williams said. "I don't have where I want to go picked out yet, but I know I want to play softball in college and go pre-med."

Williams said the highlight of the day for her was talking to a fourth-year medical student, which gave her "a feel for what it's really like."

The health-care industry has needs in particular areas.

"In certain roles, there's definitely high-need areas as far as health care goes and so there are careers that we want to highlight to help students see these great different options," Konzelman said.

For Couture, she's realized why she wants to go into nursing.

"I like that you're one-on-one with the patient and you get a variety of experiences and it's not the same every day," she said. "I just love the patient care."

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