Cameron University Visits SWMC

Cameron University Visits SWMC

By Brittney Payette

Managing Editor

At 10 a.m. on Feb. 22 at the Southwestern Medical Center (SWMC), Cameron University students attended an informational career event.

The SWMC and Cameron’s Student Enrichment Center (SEC) hosted the event, which included presentations from a multitude of leaders at the SWMC in Lawton.

These speakers talked about their education and career path and included registered nurses, surgeons, a marketing manager, a human resources director and more.

Senior biology major Anton Pickens attended the event because he wanted to learn more about what  careers were available in a hospital.

“I have always been interested in the medical field,” Pickens said. “As I progressed through college, I changed my career path quite a bit. From initially just thinking doctor, learning more about it, (then)  thinking PA (Psychician Assistant), but now, honing in on medical laboratory.”

Pickens said he really enjoyed hearing Vanessa Simmons speak about laboratory sciences because that is a job he is interested in.

“I didn’t know there was a lab assistant position,” Pickens said. “Like a part-time, before having to get your certifications and stuff.”

Additionally, Pickens said he would love more opportunities to attend events like the one at SWMC.

“There’s not a lot of opportunities to get this much information from higher-ups in specific like businesses,” he said. “You’re not normally able to just, you know, talk to all these directors.

The first speaker was operating room director Kristen Caldwell.

“I really just chose this career field because of the passion I have for taking care of people,” Caldwell said. “That kind of fed into me becoming the director and caring about staff and the people that I work with.”

Another speaker present was Cameron alumnus Behavioral Director James Chester, who spoke about SWMC’s Behavioral Health Center. Chester said he got his bachelor’s in behavioral science and his master’s in behavioral science from Cameron.

He also said that SWMC’s Behavioral Health Center has several different employment options for their facility, which provides psychiatric services for people, including children from ages four and up, teenagers and adolescents, and adults.

“In terms of like employment opportunities, there’s a variety of modalities we have in our multidisciplinary treatment team to help take care of patients,” Chester said. “So, at the very entry level, we have what’s called a mental health technician, and really all you need is a high school diploma to do that.”

Chester said they prefer their mental health technicians to be twenty-one and up because of the regulations they must follow.

The mental health technicians take care of patients’ day-to-day needs. The multidisciplinary team includes psychiatrists, therapists and nurses who work together to create an individualized short-term treatment plan to help the patient.

Cameron alumnus and Chief Quality Officer Dinah Lazarte also presented information about her job at the SWMC and some of the roles she has held at the SWMC in the past because of her degree in nursing.

“Nursing is so wide open,” Lazarte said. “You can work in doctor’s offices; you can work in clinics.”

Lazarte’s is currently in charge of all the regulatory things that hospitals deal with and follow in order to provide the highest quality care they can.

“It gave me an opportunity to really look at quality from an overall perspective,” she said. “Day-to-day, it’s all the activities that we do from the moment that patient walks in whether they come in through the ER, their Outpatient, their Inpatient, go to surgery, we do things to keep them safe. We have protocols in place.”

Kari Garza spoke about her job as an occupational therapist at the SWMC and her role as an administrative assistant.

“I like to provide a support for the people that report to me,” Garza said. “I oversee respiratory, the imaging services, therapy services here… and then all of therapy.”

For more information about future events with SEC at Cameron, email or call 580-581-5908.

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