American flags, summer time and fireworks don’t necessarily bring images of prom to mind, that is unless it is a Patriotic Prom. As part of their final project, teen volunteers who are part of Mercy’s Teens Learning in the Community (TLC) program planned a fun prom for patients at Mercy Skilled Nursing.
With fewer summer jobs available, high school and college students are looking for other ways to increase their skills and knowledge about possible career interests. At Mercy, an innovative summer volunteer program called Teens Learning in the Community (TLC) combines education and volunteering by offering high school and college-age students, 16 years and older, interested in a health care career an opportunity to learn more about different options in the field. The program runs Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer with 28 students currently participating.
The morning is spent volunteering in a variety of areas such as pediatrics, transportation, infection control, music and providing distraction entertainment for patients. During lunch, students participate in a Lunch ‘n Learn where they hear from professionals in different areas of the hospital like radiology, patient relations, nursing, physicians, ethics, child life and more.
Erin Taylor, 19, a nursing student at the University of Missouri Columbia, has always known she wanted to be a nurse though she is thrilled to be part of the program as a counselor. “This program gives high school kids hands-on interaction with physicians, patients and others at the hospital. I’m jealous something like this didn’t exist for me when I was in high school to help me determine a specialty earlier.”
Taylor, who has spent her time in the emergency department, says her favorite part of the program is the patient interaction and providing a listening ear. “Patients want someone to talk to and we have the time to do it. You can see the gratitude on their faces when they go home.”
Students spend the afternoon planning events and ways to better the patient experience. They work on projects like organizing a lending library and plan events for patients, such as the Patriotic Prom.
Prom day was full of excitement for patients. Teens provided makeovers along with the entertainment and décor for the event. There was generational specific music, bingo, dance routines and a photo backdrop - even crowning of a king and queen. Teens came formally dressed and facilitated the entire event.
One resident commented that the Patriotic Prom injected enthusiasm, brought back memories and was a great deal of fun.
For more information about TLC, please click here.