GO CAPS Helps Students Determine a Career Path Before Graduating High School

Sep 28, 2016

This morning on KSMU's Sense of Community Series, KSMU's Michele Skalicky talked with educators and administrators with GO CAPS.  In this segment, she talks with students in the program.

Students in the Medicine and Health Care Strand of GO CAPS are exposed to a variety of aspects of the health field during the school year.  They not only shadow professionals, they also have a chance to help find solutions to problems.  Some projects have included developing a dog bite prevention presentation and lesson for elementary-aged kids with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and developing a plan to educate staff members at an area hospital on the importance of hand washing in patient care.

Abby Boehs, a senior from Republic, is in her second year of the program, which meets 2 and a half hours each weekday during the school year.  She said last year she job shadowed, helped with a mock disaster drill and got hands-on experience through labs in the classroom.

"We would do urinalysis tests, we'd do blood tests.  We went to job shadows.  I was in oncology, NICU, pediatrics, that's just a few.  I did so many," she said.

The program is designed to let teens “test drive” a career.  Ryan Lacson, CoxHealth site instructor for GO CAPS, said it gives participants career immersion and a chance to learn 21st Century skills.

"We want them to be thinking creatively and critically but not just so narrow minded that they're thinking within the content itself.  We want them to be able to apply it to the business world.  We want them to be able to present an idea to a boss, to a client and to whomever.  We want them to make it through the interview," he said.

On this particular morning, GO CAPS students were learning how to network by practicing talking to each other one on one.

Two students having fun learning this skill were Kaitlyn Cook, a senior at Willard and Gavin Therion, a senior at Kickapoo, both participants in the Medicine and Health Care Strand.  Cook, who hopes to become an OB/GYN and take part in scientific research, said she heard about the program at her school.

"I knew that I was interested in health care.  I knew that that's what I wanted to do, so I figured that it would be a good opportunity to start getting immersed in that field," she said.

Therion, on the other hand, said the program wasn’t heavily advertised at Kickapoo.  His school counselor told his parents about it, and his mom suggested he attend a GO CAPS information session.

"And once I got there I became instantly astounded by what this program was and everything it entailed," he said.

Just a few weeks in, he’s already impressed with what they’ve done so far and is excited about what’s to come.  Therion is thinking about going into anesthesiology, but he hopes to learn about other career options through Go Caps.  He was looking forward to interacting with healthcare professionals and seeing what a typical day is like for them.

"Shadowing health care professionals will definitely give us a good feel for, not only just what they do medically, but business-wise and professionally--how the hospital works.  And, the thing about GO CAPS  that sets it apart from other programs that shadow medical professionals is that we will not only be following them around, but we'll also be helping them solve the issues that they're facing in day to day business hospital life," he said.

Oscar Donjuan is a senior at Central High School.  When he heard about the GO CAPS program, he thought that getting to know employees working in the healthcare field would give him an advantage as he graduates high school moves into the next phase of his life.  Donjuan hopes to someday go into family practice as a physician—possibly focusing on pediatrics. 

"You're out there, and you're connecting, and I feel like that's a really great experience," he said.

Abby Boehs said she definitely plans to go to college, but she’s not sure what career she’ll pursue yet.  After spending a year in GO CAPS, she’s looking into possibly becoming a laboratory or pharmacy technician.

"I really liked getting in that lab atmosphere where you're so close with your coworkers and everything.  I really liked that," she said.

GO CAPS, she said, helped her narrow her career choices down.  She went into the program wanting to be a maternity nurse.

"I was like, 'um, um.  That's not for me,'" she said.

Narrowing in on a career choice before starting higher education can end up saving students a lot of time and money, according to GO CAPS Mercy site instructor, Mary Edgerton, and that’s what GO CAPS helps teens do. 

Both Boehs and Cook said they especially appreciate the change from the typical school setting.  Cook said the atmosphere of GO CAPS is completely different from a classroom.

"As high school students we're so used to sitting at a desk and listening to teachers and repeating back exactly what they want to hear, and this program is not that.  It's great to be getting involved in ways that we're not used to," she said.

The only downside of GO CAPS, according to Therion and Cook, is trying to fit the program into their busy schedules.

"There's classes that I'm missing out on, obviously," said Cook.  "I'm not going to be able to take all the classes that I want that I think will prepare me for college, but I think that being in a real world environment is going to benefit me more than knowing physics, so I think that's really the only downside...and that can be overlooked," she said.

"With Kickapoo's four-block schedule and this being a year-long program, it was definitely difficult for me," said Therion.  "I had to move around some classes, but ultimately what (Cook) was saying, the benefits of this program definitely they far outweigh any troubles of moving around your classes or sacrificing what you'll have to take to come here and be part of this."

Learn more about GO CAPS here.