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40 Arab and Boaz students met and talked with a range of staff members at Marshall South.
40 Arab and Boaz students met and talked with a range of staff members at Marshall South.

Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Marshall South staff shows students behind the scenes in a hospital

High schoolers from Arab and Boaz spent a day in the hospital recently, but it wasn’t because they were sick. The 40 students have their sights set on a medical career and they wanted a glimpse of what that would be like.

Students met and talked with a range of staff members at Marshall Medical South, starting with a nursing panel and finishing with a surgeon.

Dr. Stephen Britt, a surgeon with Surgical Associates of Marshall County, warned students with an eye on medical school to first work hard in college.

“Remember what you’re going to school for,” he said. “College is not about partying. It’s about learning a vocation for the rest of your life. You can go to college anywhere; just make good grades.”

Dr. Britt told students he went to school for a total of 27 years to become a surgeon. He’s been in his current position for 17 years and it was his first job out of medical school. Because there is a huge demand for surgeons, he estimates he’s had 500 offers.  He performs about 1,000 surgeries each year.

Students questioned Dr. Britt about the difficulty of surgery. He compared it to learning to drive.

“At first, you’re kind of nervous. After thousands of miles, there’s nothing to it.”

Dr. Britt said he takes his job very seriously.

“It’s an honor for patients to trust me enough to let me operate on them. I really just love surgery.”

Chemotherapy nurse Tammie Bynum said she loves her job caring for cancer patients because she grows close to them.

“I can’t begin to tell you the blessings you get from those patients you take care of,” she said.

One student asked if nursing school is difficult. 

“It’s very tough but it is very rewarding,” she said.

Scott Tumlin, a certified nurse anesthetist, told students he tried pharmacy, engineering and pre-med before shadowing an anesthetist and enrolling in anesthesia school. He takes care of patients undergoing surgery for everything from having tonsils removed to broken bones and cardiac cases.

“It was very challenging getting here but it is very rewarding,” he said.

Emergency department nurse Brenda Johnson warned students that hospital staff may not be home for Christmas.

“You don’t get extra pay for working holidays,” she said. “That’s just part of it.”

Students listened to Kent Myer describe his job as a physical therapist at Marshall Wellness Centers-North.

“We work from the head all the way down to the feet,” he said. “We help people be able to get back to their daily lives.”

Jerri Lynn Hill, a cath lab supervisor, showed students examples of X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, ultrasounds and mammograms. She also explained to them the different heart and vascular procedures that are done in a cardiac catheterization or cath lab. 

A career in the medical field has good parts and bad parts, like any other job, Hill told students. She advised them to make sure it is the right field for them.

“If you enjoy what you do, you will love it,” she said.

Amy Sampson, director of Marshall Sleep Disorders Clinic, fascinated students as she described how sleep studies are done for those with sleep issues, which can include sleepwalking, sleep talking, narcolepsy, periodic limb movements, restless leg syndrome and the most common one - sleep apnea.

Sampson said often people who can’t sleep just need to take simple steps, like a consistent bedtime.

“A lot of sleep disorders are treated with medication and common sense, like going to bed at the same time every night. Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise.”