Lyceum and Mission Trails ROP Medical Academy Career Panel, April 28, 2016
The Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital’s Education Center was filled with high-energy teen spirit last Thursday as sixty students enrolled in Salinas Union High School District’s Medical Career Academies met six practitioners in the field.
With over $400 million per year in payroll and 5,500 employees, hospitals in Monterey County are among its largest employers.
Thursday’s panel featured six speakers employed at Salinas’ hospitals: Victor Sosa, a medical interpreter/translator, Raquel Amaya, information technologist, Joe Villagomez, intensive care and ER nurse, Kristina Escoto, speech therapist, Art Gabudao, medical social worker and Timothy Johnson, microbiologist and laboratory technician/clinical laboratory scientist.
Victor Sosa made a clear distinction between translation, or written language, and interpretation, which involves spoken language. He is a native Spanish speaker, and he is learning Mixteco and Triqui, spoken by indigenous Mexicans. Under his direction, Salinas has become a world center for interpreting these languages. Neither is related to Spanish. Career opportunities in medical interpretation are well-paid, starting at $30,000 and up to $150,000 for seasoned interpreters. To become an interpreter, one completes a forty-hour introductory class. Middlebury Institute of International Studies also offers classes leading to B.A and M.A degrees in interpretation/translation.
Raquel Amaya began as a data entry clerk and has since gone on to earn her BA and MA in Business Management focusing on Internet Technology. Since the advent of digital record keeping, her job is crucial in maintaining health records of every patient entering the hospital. She oversees the people who maintain the Patient Portal, so any hospital can access patient records in the Health Information Exchange. In her role she also oversees all if the telecommunications within the system, from pagers to telephones.
An intensive care and emergency room registered nurse with fifteen years’ experience in the field, Joe Villagomez described the various emergency situations he encounters on a daily basis at the Natividad Emergency Room and Trauma Center. Monterey County has more than its share of automobile accidents, a primary source of trauma patients. He takes deep satisfaction from seeing the victims recover and heal. Joe spoke highly of the job, in that he has a lot of flexibility in where and when he does it. He described a huge need for registered nurses in Monterey County. Nurses can earn up to $80 an hour with experience.
Speech Therapist Kristina Escoto came to her profession via international development and counselling degrees from UCLA and San Jose State University, where she also earned her MA in speech therapy. As speech therapist she works with the neonatal and postsurgical departments to ensure patients can swallow, vocalize and finally recover. She also works with people need to reduce foreign accents as a sideline. One of three speech therapists at Natividad Hospital, she stressed the high degree of job satisfaction she finds in helping people recover and in educating other therapists.
Art Gabudao grew up in Castroville as an Army dependent and went on through a variety of jobs related to youth guidance to his final goal of becoming a medical social worker focused on mental health. His MA in social work came from San Jose State. Along the way, he learned the importance of building trust and empathy and being the calm person in emergency situations, of which he has seen many. These real world experiences have made Art a master of crisis intervention.
Timothy Johnson’s path to a career as a clinical laboratory scientist came via a degree in biology from UC Berkeley, a stint as an emergency medical technician and work in biotechnology. Much of his work is done on a microscopic level. He identifies viruses, fungi, and bacteria that threaten patients’ health, especially when they cause hospital acquired infections. He brought along several intestinal worms and parasites for the students to examine.
All of the panelists stressed the need for clear communication and empathy skills in their jobs. The Lyceum’s Hidden Careers program was founded by Lyceum Vice-President, Elaine Herrmann, RN, in 2012. Her deep connections in the health care arena enable her to recruit fascinating guest speakers. The Lyceum has offered other panels related to the hospitality industry and agricultural technology. The idea has been to introduce high school students to little-known careers in these areas.
By Tom Nelson, Executive Director of
The Lyceum of Monterey County