HUNTERSVILLE – Ryan Zoldowski wants to be a cardiologist one day, and he’s heading down the right path. This fall, he will attend Davidson College to study pre-med.

Zoldowski and other students from northern Mecklenburg County have gotten a head start on their careers through the Medical Explorers program at CMC-Huntersville.

Medical Explorers is a joint venture between CMC-Huntersville and Boy Scouts of America, though being a Boy Scout isn’t necessary for acceptance into the program.

The program helps high school students explore different careers. In Zoldowski’s case, they learn about everything that goes into the operation of a medical facility like CMC-Huntersville.

“I thought we would go learn a little bit about (CMC-Huntersville) and maybe talk to one or two people in the profession, but instead, every time we went, we were in the department talking to doctors and nurses,” Zoldowski said. “It was a lot more immersive than I thought it was going to be and I think that really helped me learn.”

Zoldowski, a recent graduate of Mallard Creek High School, and 11 other students spent three months at the end of 2012 learning the ins-and-outs of CMC-Huntersville before spending the second half of the program at CMC-University.

Students get a multidisciplinary tour of the facilities. They learn the entire process that a patient goes through when they first come to an emergency room, starting with the administrative and security process.

They go on to meet with and learn from physicians and nurses in various departments from radiology to cardiology and hear what it’s like to work in those particular fields.

“They are our future health-care providers and leaders,” said Patti Guild, a nurse at CMC-Huntersville and a volunteer participant in the Medical Explorers program. “You want people to have a certain comfort level when they come here. You want them to not be afraid to ask questions and not be afraid of us at all.”

The Medical Explorers program has been running for several years at partnering hospitals in Charlotte, but this is the first year at CMC-Huntersville.

CMC-Huntersville just celebrated its first year in operation and received the Professional Research Consultants Award based on patient perception of overall quality of care.

“To not only show healthcare, but an excellence in healthcare, really shows a standard for them to follow when they get into their healthcare careers,” said Monifa Drayton, administrator of CMC-Huntersville and site coordinator for the Medical Explorers group. “As healthcare begins to change, we want to really begin to groom the next group of healthcare leaders. So this is a really good starting point for the next generation.”

Want to know more?

The program is coordinated through the Mecklenburg County Council, Boy Scouts of America.

You can get in touch with them by visiting http://www.mccscouting.org/Home.aspx or calling Their main number is 704-333-5471.

Jonathan Russell is the Director of Explorers Program Mecklenburg County Council, Boy Scouts of America.

Phone: 704-342-9342

Email: jonathan.russell@scouting.org

Public school career counselors in Mecklenburg County can get students signed up as well.