Students explore health care careers virtually at the 2021 Spark! Challenge
Northwell Health’s Spark! Challenge: Healthcare Heroes, COVID Edition, has offered high school students an inside glimpse into health care careers each year since 2014 and this year was no different — except it was held virtually. The 2021 Spark! Challenge: Healthcare Heroes, COVID Edition, had 1,500 students from 48 schools across the tri-state area participate. The students interacted directly with Northwell team members for online educational career exploration sessions before attending a live virtual awards ceremony on April 15.
Students had the opportunity to participate in engaging, online educational sessions for 20 different healthcare career fields. One educational session, which profiled a career in Family Medicine, had students follow along with three case studies, taking patient vitals online and gaining an understanding of what goes into a strep test, as well as a COVID test. Some departments showed the proper way to put on and take off PPE.
And while fully transitioning this student event to be online, the Workforce Readiness team that hosts the Spark! Challenge saw an opportunity to make it even more impactful for students. “This year has been completely reinvented,” says Kathryn Graves, talent acquisition project manager on the Workforce Readiness team. “The word we used when planning for this year was flexibility. Whereas in the past students were limited to the one field trip they were matched to, this year students had 20 healthcare fields to choose from and learned about more than five careers each on average.”
After learning about these clinical and non-clinical professions, students chose one role to highlight, creating a poster and/or a video to celebrate the career, as well as to display what they’ve learned. Projects were then reviewed by Northwell judges and the winners were awarded a prize during the virtual awards ceremony.
During the virtual ceremony, students were able to view welcome messages from Northwell’s executive leadership, view and vote for their peers’ videos and posters, and attend a careers exhibit. This exhibit allowed students to learn about areas such as family medicine, the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, surgical careers, the Institute for Nursing, and Northwell’s Center for Learning and Innovation. Students even had the opportunity to meet our therapy dog Hazel over video.
After a full morning of interactive events, it was time for the highlight of the day: announcing the winners! Congratulations to the winners below and be sure to check out their amazing posters from this year’s event.
2021 Spark! Challenge Winners:
Overall Poster Award – First Place: Valley Stream North High School
Overall Poster Award – Second Place: John Bowne High School
Overall Poster Award – Third Place: Hampton Bays High School
Overall Video Award – First Place: Baldwin High School
Overall Video Award – Second Place: Valley Stream North High School
Overall Video Award – Third Place: William Floyd High School
Overall Video Award – Honorable Mention: Sacred Heart Academy
Rookie Award: East Rockaway High School
Behind the Scene Heroes – Poster Award: Thomas A. Edison CTE High School
Clinical & Non-Clinical Professional Heroes – Poster Award: Baldwin High School
Frontline Heroes – NP, PA, & Family Medicine – Poster Award: Lindenhurst Sr. High School
Frontline Heroes – Emergency Medicine – Poster Award: Thomas A. Edison CTE High School
Employee/Facebook Favorite: Herricks High School & Kellenberg High School
Student Favorite: Video: Tottenville High School & Poster: Lindenhurst High School
Connecting COVID patients to their families with the support of the community
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maureen Hayes, an ICU registered nurse at South Shore University Hospital (SSUH), proposed a brilliant idea of knitting pairs of hearts for COVID patients and their families. One of the hearts would be given to a patient and the other to a family member, allowing them to feel connected although they are apart. She brought the idea to nursing leadership who thought her idea embodied Northwell’s value of being Truly Compassionate and was excited to see it come to life. This was the beginning of the Connected Hearts Project.
The support of our community and teamwork
Both Maureen and her assistant manager, Andrea Freudenberg, were excited about the Connected Hearts Project but needed help getting started. That’s when Andrea reached out to the community for help in creating as many “connected hearts” as possible. Andrea was already a member of the Facebook group ‘The Islip’s Feed Southside Hospital Employees’ and during the height of COVID, their members donated money and ordered from local restaurants to help feed the staff at South Shore University Hospital, formally known as Southside Hospital. She knew this group would be more than willing to lend a hand with this effort.
The response was overwhelming. The outpouring of love and a united community was incredible. Once the hearts began to pour in, the team members in the ICU were able to distribute them.
“Since its launch in April 2020, our Connected Hearts Project has taken on a life of its own,” says Andrea. The Connected Hearts Group at SSUH has monthly meetings with ICU nurses who continue to come up with ideas to support and comfort their patients. This group not only distributes hearts to COVID patients and families but also to other families who are unable to see their loved ones.
The Connected Hearts Project is still new, but it has created a positive impact on our community, patients, families, and our team members. Members of the Facebook group have commented: “It helped me to feel useful during tough times” and “I was happy to be a part of this project.” SSUH team members have also commented that they love having the ability to provide family with a connection to their loved ones.
At Northwell Health, we’re dedicated to supporting team members’ interests above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilities. It allows team members to be creative while delivering compassionate care to their patients and partnering with the community.
Raise Health in our communities where we live, love and work. Apply today!
From EMT to nurse, career growth at Northwell can take you in many directions
Career growth means different things to different people. At Northwell Health, we support all our team members’ career growths and aspirations, whether they are growing in their current role, taking their career on a different path, or expanding their skills with continued education. Meet Colleen McKenna who experienced her own career growth at Northwell that began as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and continued in nursing.
Her Northwell career began in 2015 as an EMT, where Colleen developed skills to stabilize and transport patients who are in need of emergency medical care. Within a year, she completed a paramedic program at Northwell Health’s Center for Learning and Innovation and was promoted into a new role as a paramedic.
As both an EMT and paramedic, Colleen was exposed to direct patient care that inspired her to pursue a nursing career. From that time, she knew that she wanted to provide those skills to her community. “I have always been the type of person that wants to help others and make a difference,” says Colleen.
As Colleen’s determination and passion for patient care grew, she received much support from her leaders to pursue her interest in nursing. She enrolled in prerequisites for a nursing program and was able to continue to work as a paramedic while going to school. With the support of Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program, Colleen obtained her Associate of Applied Science in Nursing. As her education journey continues, Colleen was accepted into the Farmingdale State College nursing program. “The support from leadership has been amazing. My direct supervisor checks in with me frequently to ensure I am on the right path to achieve my career goals.”
This upcoming December, Colleen will be completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and is looking forward to becoming a registered nurse at Northwell. “Northwell Health is a great company to work for because the opportunity for growth is endless and the health system provides you with all of the necessary tools to help you achieve your goals.”
Discover a career well cared for at Northwell Health. Apply today!
How Holly grew her career and her family with the help of Northwell Health
At Northwell Health, Holly Wagner has found both professional and personal support. As her career grew throughout her nine years here, so has her family – thanks, in part, to Northwell’s fertility benefits.
Holly’s professional growth began when she first joined Northwell in 2012. That’s when the private practice she worked at as a medical assistant became one of the Northwell Health Physician Partners. She became a senior medical assistant in 2015 and through her hard work and dedication, she was able to grow into a new role as a coordinator of administrative operations for the Medicine Service Line in 2018. Two years later, she was promoted again into her current role of associate product services and management analyst with the Soarian Support team.
In her current role, Holly supports the system’s needs with Soarian, a clinical software that helps with patient scheduling. The team is not only responsible for helping to set up new providers or locations as they join the organization but they also create all schedule templates and support patient scheduling needs.
“The support to grow my career path within Northwell has been amazing,” says Holly. “When I worked at the practice level, I was involved in some quality projects which helped me gain contacts and when the coordinator position opened, my manager recommended me. The director of the medicine service line was talking to me about the position within hours of me showing interest.”
This investment in Holly’s development has continued to follow her throughout her career as she moved into a position she had never imagined herself doing – but her leadership did. “Throughout my roles, my leadership has always pushed me to advance my career, even if it meant looking for growth in a new position outside my department. I can’t thank all of the people Northwell has brought into my life enough for this.”
Beyond her professional growth, Holly also experienced personal growth as a result of the many benefits that Northwell offers, taking advantage of what she feels are some of the best health benefits out there. “For me personally, as I am in a same sex marriage and the health insurance benefits have helped me grow my family,” says Holly. “My son is going to be two this May and it was with the help of Northwell Health Fertility at Smithtown that we were able to have him via IUI (intrauterine insemination).”
“Finding a career that supports you professionally and personally is huge. Most of these doctors appointments can be done before work hours but you are going through a lot during these times,” says Holly. “I would not have been able to go through my first pregnancy if it wasn’t for the team of people I worked with. I am currently starting to go back to try for baby number two and couldn’t be more thrilled!”
Discover a career well cared for at Northwell Health. Apply today!
It is Northwell Health’s policy to provide equal employment opportunity and treat all applicants and employees equally regardless of their age, race, creed/religion, color, national origin, immigration status or citizenship status, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, sex/gender, gender identity, gender expression, disability, pregnancy, genetic information or genetic predisposition or carrier status, marital or familial status, partnership status, victim of domestic violence, sexual or other reproductive health decisions, or other characteristics protected by applicable law.
Northwell Health reserves the right to amend all terms of employment.