By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Teenagers thinking about careers in health care have a chance to see what it’s like to work in a hospital. They can apply to become a summer volunteer in an 8-week program at the University of Colorado Hospital.

It isn’t just shadowing the professionals. The high school juniors and seniors could get to work beside a nurse, help with patient rehabilitation, attend a medical lecture and more. What better way to decide if a future in health care is right for you?

Bonnie Riggs and Ruby Flatt (credit: CBS)

Cherry Creek High School senior Ruby Flatt volunteers at UCH. On the day CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh met her, the 17-year-old was visiting with Bonnie Riggs, a mother from Greeley on six weeks of bed rest because of pregnancy complications.

“Boredom, sadness; all of that just gets kind of overwhelming when you’re in a situation like this,” said Riggs. “So I think it’s (having a volunteer visit) awesome.”

Bonnie Riggs and Ruby Flatt (credit: CBS)

Flatt’s love of nursing first blossomed last summer in the hospital’s teen volunteer program. She spent two 4-hour shifts a week greeting patients and assisting health care professionals.

“I learned that there’s always something to do, no matter,” said Flatt.

“They get to dip their toe in,” said Jenny Ricklefs, Manager of Volunteer Services at UCHealth.

CBS4’s Kathy Walsh interviews Jenny Ricklefs, Manager of Volunteer Services at UCHealth, University of Colorado Hospital (credit: CBS)

Ricklefs says the teens also take classes at a simulation lab, a pharmacy and more.

“We need physicians, we need nurses,” said Ricklefs.

Ricklefs hopes the summer volunteers come away with clarity.

“Having learned maybe a bit more about whether or not this is a good fit for them,” she said.

University of Colorado Hospital (credit: CBS)

Flatt is already convinced. She’ll study nursing in the fall, focusing on labor and delivery, hoping to deliver care with a personal connection.

The deadline to apply is Friday, April 14. Visit to learn more.

News Release: UCHealth Announces Summer Program for Teens

An immersive summer heath care program designed specifically for high school juniors and seniors will begin June 12 and applications are currently being accepted.

The volunteer program is open to teens aged 16-18 who carry a GPA of 3.0 or above and have a serious interest in health care. Participants will be exposed to a wide range of possible experiences, such as assisting in radiology and patient rehab, attending medical lectures, observing surgeries and working with mechanical robots during simulation exercises. They may also help greet and transport patients, work in central supply, provide beverages and perform a variety of daily tasks that ultimately contribute to excellence in patient care.

The goal of the UCHealth summer volunteer program is to expose teens to the many facets of the health care industry and help them discover whether a medical career might be the right fit for them. Candidates must be reliable, motivated and self-directed with excellent communication skills. The teen volunteers will be expected to work four-hour shifts twice a week.

UCHealth, a nationally recognized medical center, is proud to offer this program for the second consecutive summer and looks forward to working with dedicated teens from throughout the Denver metro area. The application deadline is April 14 and space is limited.

For more information about this volunteer opportunity or others, go to

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.


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