LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Summer is a time when many teens hang out with their friends and spend time at the pool. But some local teenagers are using their free time this summer to volunteer and help others. It's through a program called "Volun-teens" at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.
During the 8-week program, the teens are exposed to many aspects of health care, giving them the opportunity to work hands-on in an area of the hospital they are interested in. That way, they can get a realistic view of the workplace, while enhancing their skills.
"I usually have over 50. We try to do a smaller class so I can move them around and be exposed to all the areas," said Michelle Callihan, the volunteer coordinator.
The program allows the teens to look into whether or not a career in the medical field is something they may want to pursue. In fact, Michelle Callihan, the volunteer coordinator, says they've had past volunteens who've gone on to work in the medical field, including some who now work for CCMH.
"There's a nurse, there's an RN...One's a psychiatrist...One's in Medical school. And I know there is another, a physician's son. He's a physician now."
For 17-year-old Eisenhower High senior, Amira Rachid, she says while she's not going into the medical field, the program has helped her decide what she wants to do when she graduates. Rachid volunteers in the gift shop and the pharmacy. But she says it's really wherever they need them.
"Sometimes they need help with paperwork. Sometimes they need help with patients."
For 16-year-old Lawton High junior Foster Hillis, he hopes to go into either business or emergency medicine. Hillis says the volunteen program has really been eye-opening for him.
"It really shows people that doctors are here to help. And honestly, for me, I've always been a little scared of the doctors. But now I'm totally fine going."
The teens get community service hours for volunteering which can go toward honor roll in school. But Callihan says it's more than that for the students.
"Most of them want to help somebody. They're here because they want that feeling of helping somebody. It's just not for the educational purpose. They're giving back to the community."
Most of the teens volunteer 2 to 3 days a week in areas such as surgicare, the ER, Human resources, physician's offices, and many others. Hillis says one of his favorite experiences in the 3 years he's volunteered, was getting to watch his first surgery.
"They let me scrub in so I get even closer. And it was a back surgery. They also used a microscope and they let me switch places with the nurse so I could see what she was seeing which was really cool," said Foster Hillis, a 3rd-year volunteen.
Rachid says after 4 years of volunteering, she feels like it's made her more outgoing. She says she really enjoyed meeting the other volunteens and working with the faculty and staff.
"They're really helpful and they're really mentoring. And they let us do a lot of things. Instead of making us do busy work, they let us do hands-on work."
Callihan says she is very thankful for the program.
"I love the kids. I look forward to them every year. They're a blessing."
By the time the program is over at the end of July, the students will have racked up over 3000 service hours. They get awarded a certificate and pin reflecting their years of service. And this year, Callihan says they'll get a pizza party too. But it's nothing short of what they deserve.
To become a volunteen, students must be at least 14-years-old and have completed the 8th grade. The applications are available in May for the students to come fill out.