Seventeen Virginia Beach high-schoolers are spending the week washing up, putting on surgical gowns and will practice stitching … on bananas.

It’s a clinic hosted by Sentara Princess Anne Hospital to introduce students to medical careers that aren’t a doctor or nurse – technical and support medical jobs are important too.

Hospital President Dana Weston Graves said they’re hoping to spark an interest in healthcare careers:

“Selfishly, I hope that maybe in 15 years when they get out of med school, they say, ‘You know what?  I’d like to go back to Sentara Princess Anne and work.’”

Sentara has already done similar careers camps with middle schoolers at the Sentara CarePlex in Hampton and Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk.

Photo by Doug Boynton 

Students from Green Run Collegiate practiced stitching on bananas. 

Across the state, there’s a shortage of health care providers that was made worse by the pandemic, according to a report by the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority.

The report found work conditions, policies that limit provider time with patients and licensing requirements all create barriers for entry into the medical field.

“To address the health workforce shortage long-term the Commonwealth must do more to introduce the next generation to healthcare careers at an early age,” the report reads. 

“Focusing on diversity, embracing K-12 programs, and making better use of networking and social media can open up pathways into health-related fields.”