Huntley High School students will serve residencies at future hospital
A unique partnership between Huntley schools and a local hospital is being touted as a first-of-its-kind medical residency program for high school students.
Medical Academy students at Huntley High School will serve the residencies at Centegra Hospital-Huntley after it opens July 2016. The agreement was approved by the Huntley Community School District 158 board Thursday night.
Officials said they know of no other high school in the country having a similar partnership with a hospital in which students do extensive job-shadowing of physicians and other health care professionals.
"This will be a first in the state of Illinois," Superintendent John Burkey said, "and there are only a few programs that even loosely look like this in other parts of the country.
"Usually, the only time you hear about medical residency programs is in relation to medical school. We are going to have a medical residency program for high school seniors. If you are a kid in the state of Illinois and you want to go into medicine, you ought to move to Huntley."
Huntley High's Medical Academy itself is a competitive program with only high-achieving juniors and seniors able to make the cut. Of the hundreds of students who go through the program, only a few will qualify for the hospital residency.
"That's going to be the capstone for the kids that do really well," Burkey said. "It's been modeled after a medical school residency program. It's just going to put them so far ahead of other high schools in terms of preparation."
The 128-bed Centegra Hospital-Huntley, being built on Centegra's existing campus at Reed and Haligus roads, and other clinical facilities will serve as learning sites.
Each year, 30 students will be paired with mentors at Centegra or one of its affiliates who can provide counseling and guidance. They will get a minimum of 2.5 hours weekly experience for the program's duration.
The residency will offer students insight into a range of health care careers available, beyond nursing and medical school, said Jason Sciarro, Centegra president and chief operating officer.
"A lot of people don't know the intricacies of all the sub-specialties and all of the unique jobs that could be available in health care," he said.
Though students won't be actually touching patients, they will receive "some kind of job experience. Most people aren't necessarily comfortable in a health care environment, unless you are already working in one."
Sciarro said the program could provide a homegrown pipeline of future health care workers and support Centegra's goal to train the next generation of providers.
"We are vested in young adults, in their maturity and how they grow up," he said. "It's our responsibility to care for our community and this is just one way we can do it."
In a separate agreement with District 158, Centegra will place a licensed and certified athletic trainer at Huntley High School -- a service it provides for Woodstock and Johnsburg schools.
The trainer will provide injury assessment, first-aid, pre-event taping, postgame follow up, rehabilitation, and consult with coaches about appropriate conditioning and injury prevention programs, and treatment of athletic injuries.
"The trainer is actually at the school on a daily basis," Sciarro said. "We do baseline sports concussion testing. What is unique about Centegra's sports training programs is we are backed by an entire health system."
Centegra, McHenry County's largest employer, has acute care hospitals in McHenry and Woodstock and more than 400 doctors on its medical staff.
"We are roughly about 200 health care providers -- doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants -- in our Centegra Physician Care network," Sciarro said.
The new $233 million, 360,000-square-foot Huntley hospital is expected to employ more than 1,000 people, offer 100 medical surgical beds, a women's center with 20 private obstetric rooms, and a helipad for transporting critical patients.