A passion for health care and helping others, which was ignited during observational rotations as an Oswego County BOCES New Vision Allied Health student, has transformed into a successful career in the medical field for Pennellville native Jerry Emmons.
The 30-year-old director for emergency services at Oswego Hospital said his experience in New Vision created a solid foundation for his future.
“There’s no other way to see so many different parts of medicine as you do in New Vision,” he said. “It was an investment on the part of my school district, but I’m so glad that I had that opportunity. I met a lot of interesting people, a lot of professionals that I would work with later on in my career … So much of what I did after school came out of the New Vision Program.”
From 2000-2001 Emmons was enrolled in the BOCES-run program, which provides Oswego County students the opportunity to enhance their college applications by experiencing various health care settings.
For Emmons, that is exactly what the program did, as he completed rotations in A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital’s dietary department, housekeeping, environmental services and other areas of the health care facility.
“You went through every department of the hospital,” Emmons said, noting that Lee Memorial was one of many sites that he visited. “You would go … out on the (surgical) floor with the nurses, various doctors’ offices, primary care offices that were affiliated with the hospital, local cardiologists’ offices, there was a nursing home experiences … a little bit of everything.”
While Emmons experienced every aspect of the health care field, he said a ride-along with Menter Ambulance was a life-changing opportunity that he was able to experience thanks to New Vision.
“At the last minute, my teacher, Mrs. (Eileen) Ponto, arranged for me to be on the ambulance because another rotation was canceled,” he recalled. “I had never been on the ambulance before and I had no exposure to EMS, but I loved it. It was just a chance encounter. After that, I was hooked.”
With an interest in emergency medicine, Emmons took the knowledge he gained through New Vision and pursued a biological sciences degree from Cornell University – spending school vacations and breaks as a paramedic with Menter’s, where he now serves as medical director.
Emmons earned his doctorate in medicine from Upstate Medical University in 2009. After completing his residency there, he decided that home is where the heart is.
“I decided that I really wanted to be in this community. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to go to a big city,” Emmons said.
All the cards fell into place for the John C. Birdlebough High School graduate, as Emmons has seen things come full circle. He began his tenure as the director for emergency services at Oswego Hospital on Jan. 3, overseeing a department that treats nearly 25,000 people per year.
From student to teacher, Emmons now provides instruction to New Vision Allied Health students during their rotations through the Oswego Healthcare System.
“Definitely if we have an interesting case or if we’re going to do a procedure, I’ll ask them to come in for that,” Emmons said of today’s New Vision students. “It is very rewarding. When I’m teaching them I’m telling them, ‘Look, this program is really worthwhile if health care is something you want to do, this is definitely a good foot in the door.’ It’s a nice preview. It’s also valuable to those who discover that healthcare is not what they are interested in – sometimes rotations are the only way to know.”
While New Visions does serve as a “sneak peek” into the medical field, the success of the program has been much more than a preview for students like Emmons. And, according to a 1996 newspaper article, that is exactly what Ponto predicted when the program began in 1995. “One day, we expect some of these New Vision students to be treating patients in our community,” she said to the inaugural class during a year-end banquet 17 years ago.
About New Vision
The Oswego County BOCES Career and Technical Education Department offers three New Vision programs for high school seniors: Allied Health, Specialized Careers and Law and Government.
Each program provides a balance between classroom instruction and hands-on work in the career field. Students may apply for New Vision during their junior year for enrollment the following year.
Applicants must have a 90 percent attendance rate, an 85 percent average or better, be willing to adhere to school and worksite codes of conduct and have a focused interest and plan to pursue a career in the chosen field. For more information, visit www.oswegoboces.org or call 963-4255.