Singing River Healthcare System employs more than 2,600 people in Jackson County and they're still looking for more young men and women to join their staff. This health fair started 12 years ago with just 30 students in the hallways of the Singing River Hospital. It has now grown to a two day event, targeting hundreds of high school students who may one day work in a healthcare profession. Heath Thompson, the Vice President of Ancillary Services and O.S.H. Administrator for the Singing River Healthcare System, says, "If we have one student walk away today, that walks out of here saying, ‘I've never thought about healthcare as a career, but I'm going to be a respiratory therapist now and I'm all excited,’ then the whole event is worth it in my mind." Students got hands-on lessons and discovered that the medical field is made up of all types of workers, not just doctors and nurses. Hang Nguyen and Natalie Cruz, Biloxi High School students, say, "You can learn a lot from this. We just thought it was a field trip, but I actually did learn a lot. Yeah, we didn't think it would be this fun and give more information than we thought it would."
Healthcare staff and simulated hospital equipment helped students decide what specialization is best for them. Nguyen and Cruz also say, "The cath. lab, cardiovascular services was pretty cool too. I like the respiratory therapy as well." Thompson says the goal is to reach out into the community to find young talent who want to work locally after getting their degree. Thompson also says, "We've seen pharmacy. We've seen nursing. We've seen a good bit of our employees as they fill out applications, they tell us, ‘Hey, when I was in the 11th grade, I came through your health fair and I got excited about healthcare.’" The Singing River Healthcare System hopes to continue this career fair every year to continue recruiting more young talent, and you may one day see these faces again in Jackson County's healthcare system. The healthcare career fair, themed ‘A Hands-On Experience’, will also take place tomorrow at the Jackson County Civic Center from 9:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students will vote on the most creative and interactive booth at the end of the day tomorrow.