Detroit – Detroit native Teberah Alexander kicked off National Nurses Week by trying to highlight children’s healthcare careers and interest them the same way they do: by arousing their curiosity.
Alexander’s Future Nurses Program gives children ages 6-13 hands-on experience in nursing and healthcare professions with interactive workshops such as a weekend at Renaissance High School, her alma mater.
“I only feel obligated as a nurse and a productive citizen in my community to give back to these young people,” said Alexander, known as “Nurse T.”
The event included at least eight classrooms, each with educational stations for children. Some stations include dissecting organs, such as sheep hearts, and learning about anatomy firsthand.
Kharon Thompson, 11, cut open a sheep’s heart with the help of an instructor and identified the chambers for pumping blood.
“I felt every emotion at once,” said Kharon, who found the activity a little odd but still a favorite of the day. “This will probably be the only time I can dissect a real heart.”
Alexander, a nurse, has worked at Henry Ford Health and Sinai Grade Hospital at Detroit Medical Center. She was introduced to healthcare through her mother, who worked as an anesthesia technician. Alexander also credits her science teachers for supporting her interest in the field.
“This was my vision, to have a program where I can actually empower and educate and motivate kids to go into healthcare,” Alexander said. “I’m here to make sure they get that exposure at a young age because a lot of kids are afraid of math and science. … They can be exposed to it, and so if they see it in class or in the senior classes , they know they can overcome it.”
Alexander teaches at Excelling Nursing Academy, a school for students interested in becoming a licensed nursing assistant, and has volunteered to start a pilot CNA program for Renaissance High School students this year. Her CNA students volunteered with the younger children at Saturday’s event.
Other stations in the workshop focused on making healthy choices in food, drink and oral hygiene. Henry Ford Health provided radiology and ultrasound equipment, and volunteers for interactive stations with the children.
“You hope that if they recognize early on that science is fun, they should continue with math and science if they want to have a career in healthcare,” said Denise Brooks-Williams, executive vice president and CEO of Care Delivery Operations at Hendrik Ford Health. “Healthcare can benefit from having people who are diverse, so getting into the community and being able to expose the kids is really awesome too.”
Lauryn Hayes, 12, wants to be a travel nurse and said meeting “Nurse T” and learning about anatomy were her favorite parts of the day.
“I’ve wanted to be a nurse for a while. I just think it’s cool to be able to… help out people who need it,” said Detroit’s Lauryn.
Cymantha Galbraiph, 13, said she enjoyed learning about organs and how the human body takes care of itself. Cymantha said she wants to be a neuroscientist and would like to learn how the brain works.
“I think it’s really cool that they’re learning about it at a young age and that we’ll know that as we get older and have classes on it, that we’re already familiar with it,” she said.
Erika Walker took her 9-year-old daughter, London, to the event to learn about medical work. Walker works in health care administration and wanted her daughter to experience hands-on activities.