Ask a third grader the usual question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The popular responses are: “doctor” and “nurse”.

Less popular: patient intake director, imaging technician, pharmacist, nutritionist or environmental technician.

Every one of those positions is necessary for a hospital to function, from the time patients enter (routinely or in an emergency), to the time they leave.

There are plenty of medical field jobs — really good-paying jobs — that require varying amounts of education or certifications, that aren’t as high-profile as doctors and nurses.

The Education Foundation of Osceola has partnered with Advent Health Celebration to allow Osceola County public school students to  experience some of what takes place every day in order to run a hospital. t’s all about exposing kids to the career opportunities right here in Osceola County!

Third graders at Koa Elementary School in Poinciana got that opportunity Monday as part of the Foundation’s “Medical Pipeline”, and learned about all sorts of medical field jobs: environmental services, clerical and administration, radiology, pharmacy and the neonatal unit (called “mother baby” for younger ears to grasp).

The students were part of hands-on activities like working on responsive mannequins (their “patients”), getting into scrubs and playing “Operation”, mixing safe liquids together and learning about stroke symptoms and what to do when these symptoms are noticed.

This type of experience only happens through partnerships, like the what the Education Foundation of Osceola County and Advent Celebration have had  since 2013, when they began working on the Medical Pipeline in 2013.

Bridging the gap from what’s learned in classrooms and what actually needs to be done in hospitals is what the Medical Pipeline is all about, said Debbie Laughon, Advent Celebration’s director of professional development.

“We want to show what the staff does, and how they do it,” said Laughon, who also sits on the Education Foundation’s board of directors. “I’ve been a nurse for 46 years, and I’d like some of these kids to become one. I know they hear stories about careers in medicine, some positive and some negative, but I’m passionate about it. I want to help young people find their dream job. I know it’s been mine.” Plus, it’s about economic development in the county. There are plenty of jobs in medicine right here in Osceola County and they can be trained and work here, she said.

Debbie Laughon

Director of Professional Development, Advent Health Celebration

Education Foundation Executive Director Kerry Avery and Pipeline Program Manager Mollie Akes helped usher the 50 Koa Elementary students into the experience at Advent Health Celebration. They raved about what Laughon does for Osceola’s students — over 540 of them in elementary, middle and high school have been through this school year already — and both describe Laughon as a huge “a rock star” for the community, and on Monday… these very fortunate students.

“I love watching the kids learn,” Avery said. “This simply wouldn’t be possible without Debbie.”

Akes also oversees Education Foundation’s Construction Pipeline program, which is also about exposing students to all the possibilities — and there’s the catch.

“There’s a whole spectrum of careers, there’s something to interest every child out there,” she said. 

The experience that took place at Advent Health Celebration took place two hours, but potentially, these students from Koa Elementary may have been impacted for a lifetime.

That’s what we call making a Positive Difference in Osceola County!