May 19, 2024 8:14 pm

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Hundreds of students explored careers in healthcare with ECHO Tour

EVERETT—Approximately 600 students from 24 Snohomish County high schools are gaining hands-on exposure to healthcare careers by in-field professionals in the county’s first Exploring Careers & Healthcare Opportunities (ECHO) work-based learning tour that began on Monday, March 18, at Everett Community College.

Sarah Harden and Shonda Hilton with Optum Washington speaking to students about the nursing profession at ECHO Tour on March 19, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

“I like the specializing of everything, and the time is good; the sessions aren’t too long,” Emiko with Monroe High School told the Lynnwood Times. Both she and her friend Eva said they love learning and enjoyed the 30-minute workshop on chiropractor care.

Throughout the day, students rotated from room-to-room learning from real-life career professionals in the fields of nursing, medical assisting, emergency medical services, pharmacy, dentistry, and even healthcare administration. ECHO was modeled after Career Connect Washington Northwest (CCWNW) Regional Network’s success of their Washington Apprenticeship Vocational Education (WAVE) Tour in April of 2023 that focused on the construction trades. 

the Nursing Lab at Everett Community College. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

Michelle Dickinson, Technical Education Manager for the Monroe School District, applauded the effort of Career Connect Northwest (CCNW) for organizing the ECHO event to help in getting back to normal in career pathways for students after the COVID shutdown.

“The students are responding to really good information, really in-depth,” Dickinson said. “I love the presentations which have a lot of visual aids with engaging pieces.”

She added that it was a benefit for her 24 students to not only be on a college campus but experiencing the workshops in the actual rooms [and labs] for a specific healthcare specialty.

Alyssa Jackson (left) and Jenny Veltri (right), Co-Directors with Career Connect Washington Northwest speaking to invited guests on March 19, 2024, for the ECHO Tour. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

To organize such a panoptic healthcare career connected learning event, Jenny Veltri and Alyssa Jackson, both Co-Directors for CCNW, collaborated with the Northwest Educational Service District 189, Snohomish STEM Network, Economic Alliance Snohomish County (EASC) a dozen healthcare organizations and two dozen high schools in the area.

“Today’s students are the architects of tomorrow’s workforce, and we know that the demand of healthcare careers is on the rise,” Jackson said. “So, the ECHO tour is a unique opportunity for industry and education to collectively invest in building our workforce together. The ECHO tour is a dynamic career exploration program designed to provide interactive multidisciplinary experiences to high school students.”

Students we saw at the event on Tuesday, March 19, were from Arlington, Weston, Kamiak, Lakewood, Meadowdale, Lake Stevens, Glacier Peak, and Granite Falls high schools, along with Sno-Isle Tech.

Brett Leithauser speaking to students about careers in pharmacy at ECHO Tour on March 19, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

Jackson emphasized that besides a proactive approach to the workforce “pipeline” employers participating in the ECHO tour introduce their “brand into community highlighting the range of careers available” in the healthcare field.

“The students get hands-on activities with real world experiences with real world examples, and they get engagement with healthcare professionals in an educational setting; so this is something they [the students] remember forever,” she added.

Members of the Everett Gire Department speaking to students about the emergency medical service profession at ECHO Tour on March 19, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

In July of 2023, the Office of Recovery and Resilience—established to manage the $160 million of federal APRA funds in Snohomish County for COVID recovery and led by Dr. Kara Main-Hester, Ph.D.—awarded $4.3 million to seven projects with the goal of connecting individuals to stable jobs or career pathways aligning with Executive Dave Somers’ commitment to continued post-pandemic recovery efforts in workforce development for Snohomish County.

Economic Alliance Snohomish County and Snohomish STEM Network were one of those recipients with a one-time $1.2 million award with the goal of expanding youth career exploration programs through partnerships with K-12, higher education, and career connected learning organizations. The ECHO tour at Everett Community College was a product of this ongoing effort.

Sarah Martine with Mukilteo Memory Care speaking to students about the nursing in an assisted living environment at ECHO Tour on March 19, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

Wendy Poischbeg, Interim President and CEO of Economic Alliance Snohomish County (EASC) emphasized on Tuesday the importance of looking ahead in the “pipeline of skills” to fill the hundreds of vacancies currently in the healthcare industry right here in Snohomish County.

EASC and their partners Snohomish STEM Network and Career Connect Northwest intend to replicate the WAVE and ECHO career connected learning models to other industries such as sustainability and clean energy, computer science, information technology, and advance manufacturing in Aerospace, with the hopes of it expanding to a regional model for other counties.

Although this ECHO Tour was geared for high schoolers, a second event for middle schoolers is coming to Edmonds College this fall.

Some of the businesses participating in the ECHO Tour were The Everett Clinic, EvergreenHealth Monroe, Mukilteo Memory Care, Snohomish County Health Department, Skagit Regional Health, Everett Fire Department, and Edmonds College. 

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