Baptist Health Summer Academy introduces students to healthcare

Pictured (l-r) Juan Ramirez; Joseph Arrunategui; Angela Campo; Rocio Olive; Anthony Noel; Raina Walker, and Nurse Clinician Lamberto Hernandez, RN.

Vasisth Sewnarainsukul remembers being hospitalized at age 10 for a mysterious chronic stomach ailment ultimately diagnosed and treated. The experience sparked the curiosity of the 16-year-old Miami native to find out more about a possible future as a medical scientist.

School for Advanced Studies senior Sewnarainsukul is one of 72 recent graduates of the Baptist Health South Florida Summer Health Career Academy. Eleventh and 12th grade area high school students, as well as some already in college, spend a week shadowing doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to get a first-hand look inside the world of modern healthcare.

“When I was 10 years old I spent a while in the hospital,” Sewnarainsukul said. “I am 100 percent okay now, but ever since I was young I wanted to learn more about the medical field. The program helped me figure out the complexity of hospitals and how much is going on at one time.”

The Health Care Academy was started in 2007 to foster student interest in healthcare careers and to motivate community youth to prepare for a professional future. Participants observe live surgeries, tour the Electronic Intensive Care Unit in Doral (where all critical care patients are monitored additionally), receive CPR training, learn wellness initiatives, and some even witness a live birth.

Student Program manager Marsha Tejeda said the academy demonstrates Baptist Health’s commitment to the future work force.

“We understand there are many choices for careers and we hope to motivate students to do well in school and prepare for the future. It’s fun to watch the excitement of the kids.”

Five separate one week programs are offered at Baptist Hospital, South Miami Hospital, Doctors Hospital, West Kendall Baptist Hospital and Homestead Hospital. To date more than 360 students have graduated from the program now in its sixth year, and some chose healthcare professional futures as a direct result of their academy experience.

Class of 2012 Health Academy student Sewnarainsukul was particularly impressed with the temperament of surgeons and staff during a complex robotically assisted surgery.

‘“They were not tense,” he said. “They knew what they had to do and did it well. The staff was super nice and the surgeons were making jokes and relaxed. It was amazing because the robotic arm made four tiny holes to check if the patient was okay instead of making a large incision.”

Baptist Health’s Career Academy works with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, healthcare academy magnet programs, and area private schools to promote the annual summer program and the children of hospital staff are also encouraged to apply.

“Our big initiative is to draw local kids from each service area,” Tejeda said. “These are high achieving students. They are serious students who come in ready to spend a week with us full time every day from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.; they love it.”

To find out more about Baptist Health’s Summer Academy contact Marsha Tejeda at 786-527-9162 or email

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