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High School Student, how to start?

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    High School Student, how to start?

    Hi, I've been putting this off for awhile... I've been sorta stalking these forums for the past year, because all the little questions I had were answered... And I have nothing to contribute.

    But, alas! The time has come...(dun dun dun)

    I can't figure out if it's a weird "I love helping people" drive that just increases over time... But the field of caregiving and nursing is such an amazing, necessary, beautiful(in my opinion, it's an art) field. I have endless amounts of respect for all of you. I can't even comprehend how wonderful you are for managing the psychological part of the job, let alone the physical part...
    You'd think I'd be grossed out, with all the caths, bed pans, bed sores, angst-y workplaces, etc. According to my friends, they would all "probably run away".
    I can't stand their ignorant attitude toward this field. They have all these stupid misconceptions...

    So here I am.(yay)

    briefly, I'm Hannah, almost done with my Junior year in High School.

    I think I'd be a good caregiver. I think I'd like it.
    I have a lot of questions...

    I would like to maybe shadow...?
    Or maybe get an experience on what it is like to be a PCA...?
    Or maybe I could just befriend someone with a disability and learn how to care for them, as a friend? That sounds creepy...But I don't know how else to phrase it... To my understanding, the youth with SCI's or other visible handicaps don't really have a strong community on the interwebs, and parents tend to get very protective(understandably)...

    Do you think that any parents of children with a condition(that sounds so lame but I can't think of any term that would appeal to the general public of these forums, for I know some are VERY picky about terminology and being PC gets difficult...)would be willing to have a teenager come and hangout with their kid? Do you think that is too strange of an idea? I just want to learn, and I thought that maybe someone closer to my age would like my company more than an older person... I don't know...

    My ideas are all pretty random and have been formulating for the past 3 or so years. Are they unrealistic?

    If you have any suggestions as to how, or where I could get started in NYC, they would be really, really appreciated(ie. you will receive buckets full of e-cookies and e-hugs).

    have a good day!
    Last edited by jadedsimiles; 1 Mar 2011, 9:52 PM.

    Jaded, welcome to our forums. I think it is great that you are researching options for future work and careers for yourself.

    That being said, I would not consider you for employment as a PCA for my mother at your age. Maturity and some life experience are things we look for when hiring PCAs. I would suggest that at this time you focus on getting your education completed (high school) and start college. If you are interested in nursing, a BSN should be your initial goal. You will be much more employable with this degree as an RN, and have more more potential for advancement. Eventually you may also want to pursue a graduate degree for either advanced clinical practice or nursing administration.

    Meanwhile, I would encourage you to think about taking a few related courses. This could include training as a CNA or HHA (often available through publicly funded vocational schools or junior colleges), or medical assisting. The Red Cross Home Nursing course is also a good one. Also, look into opportunities to do informal, unpaid caregiving for family members or friends. We certainly look at such experiences favorably when hiring for PCAs.

    Once you start college and get some of your nursing clinical experiences and training, then you may want to consider working as a PCA part-time. Of course you would need to work around your school schedule. Weekend relief or evening shifts usually work out the best.

    Good luck with your explorations and future!

    Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 2 Mar 2011, 10:37 AM.
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


      Welcome, jadedsimiles, and all the best wishes for your life and career. It's wonderful to move in a positive career direction early in life, and someone with your level of caring and commitment will do well!
      MS with cervical and thoracic cord lesions


        Wecome to you! I think your interest to be commendable, and I wish you luck in obtaining your goals. I agree with SCI Nurse about additional training being needed, but perhaps an opportunity might come up to volunteer at a summer camp for disabled kids or some similar opportunity that would allow you to put your great intentions to use.


          Volunteer at a nursing home, Veterens hospital, YMCA, special needs kids in schools or at summer camp.
          Good luck.


            Welcome Hannah. Your local spinal cord rehab facility may also have volunteer opportunities. Best wishes.


              If not the hospital, try to find a local rehab gym. at my local junior colleges there was always students who volunteered for credit or something I assume. Others got paid to do the same job.


                Shoot higher! You are young, bright (it seems) and eager. Stay in school. Become an R.N. or a doctor even -- Why not? Sky is the limit!


                  hello jade
                  You can get involved with workstudy.
                  When I was in my first year of pre vet, I worked for a family who paid my to stay over night with the grandmother, who had a stroke but wanted to still live in her house. I got a hundred bucks for 36 hours in the eighties. so I did one shift a week and worked in the lab at the college as well. I was getting my pre vet requirements at a nursing college.
                  Later I learned of a person with M.s who needed a cleaning lady. I ended being one of her pca's until my accident. we are still friends too.
                  I think some high schools also have work study type programs too. anyway, there certainly is a need in the sci community for good caregivers, so best of luck.


                    Speaking as a caregiver, I say this gently - I agree with CowboyCrip. Do not aspire to this, have a bigger dream. This work is hard, low paid and often without acknowledgment. Reach higher - become a doc and work to CURE sci, the best care anyone could contribute!!
                    Wife of Chad (C4/5 since 1988), mom of a great teenager



                      If your described interest in helping others is genuine, some of the volunteer options already mentioned by others are a good initial approach that can permit the "shadowing" experience that you mentioned. Please understand the importance of maturity in caregivers who provide the types of assistance referenced in your post. A wise individual will immediately observe the need for caution in receiving an inexperienced high school student into such situations.

                      There are; of course, high school students who are mature enough to be terrific helpers in the exact tasks that you have referenced. While "formal" education is indeed an important caregiver qualifier - do not underestimate this fact - it is not an essential prerequisite to being a good caregiver. In fact, many who participate in this forum could testify about highly certified caregivers who were not good caregivers.

                      If the person being helped is sufficiently knowledgeable in matters pertaining to their care, it is not necessary to have a certification or degree to be a terrific caregiver. In such cases, some of the greatest characteristics of a caregiver are: maturity - high school age being neither a disqualifier nor a guarantee of maturity - integrity, and a desire to help even in unpleasant situations.


                        I really, really was not expecting so many responses...
                        Thank you so much!
                        Onto the individual replies

                        Thank you, I'm very happy to be here.
                        I don't think I would consider myself as a fitting caregiver for your mother either. Lots of people tell me I have always been mature for my age, my parents are older than most, and all of my family members are over 30 or under 7... Needless to say, I have been surrounded by "maturity" all my life. Whoever, I do enjoy embellishing in child like antics, and it sometimes comes out in my humor too.

                        There are so many possibilities for future work that, while I know I want to work directly with patients, hopefully sooner rather than later, it's hard to focus, and grasp just how many things interest me. I plan on taking a gap year between high school and college, to explore my interests... Do you think by the time I reach that age, and do all the right things to get there, I would be a prospective caregiver?
                        -Thanks again!

                        Thank you so much, it really means a lot!

                        *overcome with welcoming feelings* hehe
                        Thank you! All my "good intention" is being used by fellow classmates who gain an empathetic ear to their problems! I can't believe I forgot about summer camps! Last year I applied but I didn't meet the age requirement, I'll have to search for the name of it again.

                        Great username haha, thanks for the suggestions, I definitely have some more researching to do!

                        Do you know of any in Manhattan? All I could come up with were ones in New Jersey... I can handle commuting but NJ is a whole other world.

                        Sheesh, I looked into it and all of the programs want someone who has graduated from high school or is over 18... (Note: get fake id.) haha, but thanks, if I get desperate/bored, I'll email the program leader people and ask if they would be willing to accept a meager 16 year old such as myself.

                        I am tempted to break out into song and dance "I believe I can flyyyyyy"
                        Haha... I mentioned this to SCI-Nurse, but I'll give you the abridged version! I'm still a young, flighty, indecisive female(hah, see, jokes, with the stereotypes and... It's late/early, just... ignore all attempts at my failed humor) so, while I know I want to work directly with patients, no matter the conditions because I really just... Want to be there for them, and help them work through it, and maybe I should look into rehab therapy... But I want to keep my options open. I will most definitely stay in school, you don't even have to worry about that! My gosh I get so excited by just the idea of college(though I'm going to be sick of the word in 2 months) and all the course I could take and everywhere I could go and yayyy..... So yeah, the sky's the limit but I think... The road to being a doctor isn't the most inviting one, and I'm not that big of a competitive person. I ranted, sorry...
                        So... Thank you so much! Sorry my response to you one line is ridiculous... I'm in a state of sleep deprivation!

                        That. Is. So. Awesome. Oh my gosh I think I might do that for my gap year, it sounds perfect. Thank you thank you! I'm not really all that interested in getting money as of now, but I bet that will be a big thing when I enter the real world and whatnot... I'm sorta still living up the bubble life where everything's free unless I leave the house!

                        Thank you for being so honest! I'd love to be ale to find a cure, but the fact of the matter is, I'd probably explode sitting for years on end doing research on a specific protein that could do such and such to the spinal cords nerve endings (that is all blabber that just spilled out of my brain and into my fingers so it isn't real but I'm going to pretend that could convince someone I'm bright enough to find a cure). I think it would be more beneficial to work with a patient directly, rather than mess up research by breathing on a test tube for too long or something... But really, I appreciate the honesty, it's always needed!

                        Okay, I'm apologizing in advanced, beware... because it's 6am and I'm turning into a zombie.
                        That being said, when I started writing these responses, I was 1. more coherent, 2. not yet a zombie. I tried(wether or not successfully so is up to the readers interpretation) to express my "maturity".
                        I don't like trying to act mature, I don't try to look older, and I find people who act that way, which is acting against who they really are just to fit in or something, in the end just seem very immature. IF my run on sentence makes no sense, remind me to edit it. I hope I will never have an interview in this state.
                        Hopefully, the majority of the people hiring are wise, for I pity them if they aren't. Thank you.
                        Everytime I find a possible volunteer opportunity, it always comes down to the fact that I'm either not old enough, or not qualified enough. Hopefully I'll be able to gain experience without those prerequisites.

                        And again, thank you!!


                          Hi Jadedsimiles :
                          I believe with your determination you can do anything you set your mind to .

                          There is all sorts of kool state accredited courses for you to venture into via Helping people

                          Good luck on following your dreams
                          Set goals and get after them Girl you'll do just fine
                          I've seen life from both sides of the fence as a caregiver , psychology is my major so I balanced out my life pretty well

                          Keep smiling and ask away

                          Welcome aboard



                            I've been thinking about psychology for awhile, but I worry how the people I work with would take that... Would they respond negatively and think I was trying to psychoanalyze them if they were aware I studied it?


                              Originally posted by zillazangel View Post
                              Speaking as a caregiver, I say this gently - I agree with CowboyCrip. Do not aspire to this, have a bigger dream. This work is hard, low paid and often without acknowledgment. Reach higher - become a doc and work to CURE sci, the best care anyone could contribute!!
                              I agree with you

                              My aide has been with me a long time and i think she only makes about 11 bucks an hour. If this girl wants to get in this field, try something like becoming a PT or OT. Much better compensation.