Santa Paula Times

Back row left to right - Cindy Jordan (board member), Mary Deines (Executive Director/Secretary Treasurer), Bea Frias (board member) & Phil Snow (board member). Front row left to right Gloria Camarillo (presisent), Cesar Medrano, Jessica Castaneda, Ytzel Ayala, Francisco Erazo & Jennifer Heighton (vice president).

Santa Clara Valley Wellness Foundation welcomes
six students aboard SHIP health internship program

July 02, 2014
Santa Paula News

Six Santa Clara River Valley high school students have come aboard SHIP for an exciting - albeit landlocked - cruise into their future heath care careers.

The third annual Santa Clara Valley Wellness Foundation SHIP (Summer Health Internship Program) is giving six teenagers the opportunity to experience a wide variety of possible health care careers with the Ventura County Health Care Agency (VCHCA).  

Named in honor of the late noted physician/hospital administrator Dr. Sam Edwards of Santa Paula, SHIP will allow the high school juniors and seniors the chance to not only explore medical field career options, but also earn pocket money during the internship.

Selected for the unique program were Jessica Castaneda, 17, Cesar Medrano, 17 and  Marisol Tellez, 16, of Santa Paula as well as Fillmore residents Ytzel Ayala, 16, Francisco Erazo, 16, and Kendra Magana, 18.

Tellez and Magana were unable to attend the gathering to introduce the new SHIP class and several parents to the county health officials - including Health Care Agency Director Barry Fisher - and SCVWF Board Directors.

Bea Frias, VCMC chief nursing officer and SCVWF director, said those involved with the foundation and SHIP program “Truly think of Dr. Sam often,” his efforts to reopen Santa Paula Hospital and his dedication to community.

Dr. Sam passed in January; he was 76. 

She noted that not only does SHIP give interns an opportunity to explore careers within the Ventura County Health Care Agency’s hospitals and clinics, but the program also “empowers and challenges the students” to strive for excellence.

“Not just here,” she added, “but their whole lives... “ 

VCHCA Hospital Administrator Cyndie Cole thanked the SCVWF for “What you do,” in support of the hospital and healthcare as well as the SHIP program.

“I’ve watched this program for three years,” said Cole, “and I’m amazed at the experience the students get,” in a variety of locations - from hospital ER and clinic to office and surgery - as well as in numerous healthcare professions.

The Workforce Investment Board of Ventura County recently honored SHIP with the Youth Opportunity award as a program that will strengthen the area’s workforce.

Jessie Erazo said her son Francisco is the second family member to be involved in the program; last year her daughter Citali was a SHIP participant.

There are so many qualified applicants each year it is hard to select the interns said SCVWF Chairwoman Gloria Camarillo, who noted the program would not be possible without the cooperation of county staff that mentors the students as well as schedule coordinator Frias.

“It’s a challenge for all involved,” but all are united to further the interest of the interns in medicine.

Of course, added Camarillo, the ultimate goal is “To have these students graduate from college and come back to our health system!”

And that happens said Cole: years ago when the director of VCHCA of nursing she interviewed a Santa Paula student, Jaime Arana, now a county physician.

Camarillo told the students, “Ask questions of all you shadow, be like a sponge, absorb it,” and even if they don’t pursue a medical career, the SHIP experience will be beneficial.

Mary Deines, SCVWF Executive Director, said SHIP graduates have garnered foundation scholarships as well as returned to work for the county while in college. 

It’s a love of children that Ytzel Ayala said “Since the eighth grade,” steered her career interest towards being a pediatric nurse. 

Jessica Castaneda’s interest in becoming a nurse and perhaps a pediatrician was fostered by her nieces and nephews: “When they were sick they would come to me,” and by the 7th grade Jessica said she made up her mind to seek a medical career.

Francisco Erazo said studying to be a radiologist came to him during a SHIP introductory video: “It really caught my interest,” although he admitted he still might pursue dentistry, a career choice he has considered for years.

It was his father’s back injury that spurred Cesar Medrano’s interest in physical therapy, and sports his interest in becoming a physician: “I worked with my dad and would go with him to the clinic,” and as a 9th grade athlete Cesar said during sports physicals he would closely question the doctors. 

Cynthia Jordan, executive director of Vista Cover Healthcare and new to the SCVWF Board, helped interview Santa Paula applicants.

Jordan said, “It was a great experience,” as well as an eye-opener as “several of the applicants were with the school’s Human Services Academy.” 

SHIP’s Marisol Tellez, Jordan added, had been an intern at Vista Cover through the high school academy.

Each student went through a complete hiring process, submitting a résumé, transcript, letters of recommendation and a cover letter, and had to pass muster with a three-person interview board. Students will work full-time, five days a week for eight hours rotating between county hospitals and clinics; the foundation pays the salary of SHIP students.