a photo of senior white coat students with Baxter Health staff

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. -- On Monday, August 29, Mountain Home High School and Baxter Health partnered to host a white coat ceremony for high school senior interns in the high school’s Dunbar Auditorium. 

During the event, Baxter Health personnel placed a white coat on all 24 student interns as well as a stethoscope around each of their necks. 

Last year, high school student interns were welcomed back into the hospital’s education building as well as the Ed & Gayle Goodman Simulation Center after being unable to learn at the facility the year before due to COVID-19. Sarah Brozynski, the hospital’s Director of Education, said that students will continue their training in these educational settings at Baxter Health this year, but she hopes that the students will be able to observe some real-life trauma and emergent situations later this year as well.

Through the Introduction to Healthcare Careers program at Baxter Health, student interns will receive a CPR certification and will learn about radiology and x-ray technology by x-raying chickens from the butcher. In the simulation center, students will learn patient care through the use of a full-body robotic simulator, called a manikin. The manikins can simulate a patient aged from young adult to geriatric. Students will explore four different patient settings with the manikins: critical care, surgery, labor and delivery, and medical surgical. Student interns will also use the skills they learn throughout the semester to take part in trauma drills.

Baxter Health’s President and CEO Ron Peterson was encouraged to see so many students answering the healthcare call. “I am so excited to see your interest,” he said. “I am so excited that you’ll be able to explore Baxter Health and explore all things healthcare, and I look forward to recruiting you starting today and recruiting you in the future.”

Dr. Robin Myers, Chancellor of ASUMH, discussed the partnership between the school district, the college, and Baxter Health which can result in a student beginning the Licensed Practical Nursing Program during his/her senior year of high school and completing that program – while receiving a monthly stipend – by December after high school graduation in May. 

Baxter Health’s Chief Nursing Officer Shannon Nachtigal said that the students’ white coats symbolize compassion and love. “The one thing that is most important to me is that when you become a healthcare provider – no matter why you chose this field – when you’re in that white coat, people need to know and feel that you did it because you love people and you care about what happens to people.”

Barney Larry, Baxter Health’s Vice President of Business Development and Foundation Executive Director, closed the event with some encouragement about sowing seeds. “Grab that seed and let it grow within you, and you’re going to be a person who is very special and will make a difference in the lives of others,” he said. “That’s what healthcare is.”