Students look at medical careers at JRMC

a1kidstourcolorOriginally published in The Jamestown Sun, 4/11/13
By: Keith Norman

Photos by John M. Steiner

Students from Edgeley and Kulm elementary schools were given patients to care for Wednesday at Jamestown Regional Medical Center. The students, dressed in scrubs, disinfected the patients and vaccinated them and before performing lab tests.

The patients are not expected to recover.

The goal was not to improve health of the “patients” — oranges, actually — but to build interest for careers in health care.

“The goal is to introduce kids at a young age to the medical professions,” said Kylie Nissen, senior project coordinator for the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health. “We want them to come back to the rural areas and work down the road.”

The program is called the Rural Collaborative Opportunities for Occupational Learning in Health, abbreviated as “R-COOL-Health.” The program provides grants to hospitals and schools to bring classes to the hospital for a day of hands-on learning.

“A lot of these kids only know about doctors and nurses,” Nissen said. “This expands their knowledge about medicine and all the jobs it entails. PT (physical therapy) is a big attraction especially to those into sports. There is not a single health profession that doesn’t have shortages in North Dakota.”

Nissen said this is the fifth year of the program with 10 grants provided to schools around the state.

The grant provides scrub-like shirts for the students and staff attending and helps cover the costs of syringes and oranges for the hospital demonstrations.

Tony Hanson, administrator of LaMoure County Public Health, said the program was about the future.

“It is about developing careers for the young kids,” he said. “It is a grass roots effort but really the only way we’ll fill our staffing needs in rural health.”

Hanson said the setting and instructions increases the benefit of the program.

“Doing things hands on — like giving a shot to an orange — gives them a chance to experience and learn,” he said.

The program comes at an ideal time in the child’s education, according to Jason Carroll, sixth grade teacher from Edgeley.

“Some of these kids only see a hospital when someone is sick or injured,” he said. “This lets them look at health care from a different perspective. The sixth-grade age is where kids start asking about occupations. Most start out wanting to be a pro athlete but it is a good idea to get them thinking about other professions.”

Some of the students were already sold on the medical field.

Sixth-grader Lucas Nitschke, Jud, N.D., said he was already considering becoming a doctor.

“I enjoy learning about health care,” he said. “Learning about it helps me to see if it’s something I want to do.”


Maren Berntson, a fifth-grader from Kulm, said she enjoyed learning about all the different jobs in healthcare.

“I think I would like physical therapy because it is helping people to recover,” she said.

Abby Wald, a registered nurse with Lamoure County Public Health, said the students were good learners.

“It gives them a glimpse of what we do,” she said. “Maybe it will inspire some people to go into the health field. Besides the orange is a good patient for them to work with.”

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at

Local health officials say overhaul good for public

Originally published in The Jamestown Sun on 6/29/2012.

Local health officials in Jamestown said Thursday’s Supreme Court decision upholding portions of the health care reform law would ultimately benefit the public.

“One of the biggest things is obviously the individual mandate,” said Todd Hudspeth, president/CEO at Jamestown Regional Medical Center. “It’s a good thing to have in place because you’re not going to have an effective health care policy if you can’t try to include everybody.”

Hudspeth said that the overriding concept of the universal health care bill is well-intended.

“Overall, the main design is that we want to take people out of getting care in the emergency room, and instead get them working with a physician in a primary care clinic,” he said.

Hudspeth said the court’s decision today brings the country closer to other industrialized nations around the world that view health care as a right, and not a privilege.

“Personally, I feel it’s morally and ethically the right thing, but beyond that, fiscally it makes good sense and it’s a good policy for health care in general,” he said.

Thursday’s decision also allows the public health care sector to continue emphasizing a message of prevention, according to Robin Iszler, unit administrator with Central Valley Health of Jamestown.

“The Affordable Care Act now shifts the health care system from one that focuses on treating the sick to instead focusing on keeping people healthy,” she said. “Working in public health, that’s a good message for us and hopefully it will reduce health care costs in the future.”

Iszler also said provisions within the law should help provide additional jobs as well.

“There are measures within the law that will help strengthen our work force and that’s a great thing as we’re always in demand for qualified employees to be a part of our health care system,” she said.

Iszler said there are many good provisions within Obama’s health care plan to help local residents, such as keeping kids under their parents’ health care plan until age 26, but also said there is work to do.

“At least now, with a decision having been made, they can move forward to continue working on it,” she said.

As for the impact on local businesses, Kimberly Saxberg, executive director for the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce, declined to comment regarding the court’s decision.

Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at