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University of Mississippi Medical Center Chaplains Participate in High School Career Days

by Jeff Murphy MDiv BCC
APC™ Forum, March 2017 Vol. 19 No. 2
 
University of Mississippi Medical Center chaplains promoted professional chaplaincy as a career to high school students at the Alignment Jackson Career Expo and at the Rankin County Medical Career Day.
 
According to its website, Alignment Jackson exposes Jackson, MS high school freshmen to career tracks.  The hope is that this “advances our community’s economic and social well-being by helping Jackson Public Schools students prepare for college, career, and life.”  
 
The 2016 Alignment Jackson Career Expo was held on November 16.  Approximately 2000 students were able to visit kiosks promoting careers in such fields as health care, culinary arts, environmental protection, media, science, technology and construction.  2016 is the first year that chaplaincy was included among the careers presented.  Chaplain Jeffery Murphy, BCC and Chaplain Anzette Thomas presented a booth on professional chaplaincy in the human services related careers area.
 
The booth included religious items representing different faith traditions.  Among those items were a rosary, a smudge stick, a Spanish language New Testament, a Buddhist prayer bell, a Book of Mormon, a Bible, a Muslim prayer mat, a kippah, anointing oil and an Eastern Orthodox icon.  Also the Chaplains: On the Front Line of Faith DVD played continually at the booth.  Professional experts were asked to offer a “hands on” activity to help the students understand the skills related to the field.  At the chaplaincy booth the students were able to complete a simple spiritual self-assessment.  They also were given a quiz to see if they could match religious symbols with the appropriate faith tradition.
 
Two weeks later Chaplain Murphy presented the booth again at the Rankin County Medical Career Fair.  Rankin County is a neighboring county to the Jackson Metro area and includes some of the Jackson suburbs, small towns, and rural areas.  400 high school students who have expressed an interest in health care as a career attended the fair. 
 
Chaplains Murphy and Thomas agree that the presentation of chaplaincy at the fairs was a success.  Some of the students who came to the booth told stories of how they, a family member or a friend received chaplaincy care while in the hospital.  Many of the students said they were impressed that chaplains work with people of all faiths and people of no faith.  Other students said that they were not aware that chaplains work closely with the rest of the interdisciplinary team and are seen as a vital member of the team.
 
Chaplain Thomas said, “I got to share with the students my experience ministering with patients and families of many different faiths while experiencing illness.  We talked about the interconnectedness of spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental health.”  Chaplains Murphy and Thomas hope that other chaplaincy departments will seek opportunities to present chaplaincy at high school career fairs across the country.

Rev. Jeffery N. Murphy MDiv BCC serves on the APC Board of Directors, Board Leadership Development and Nominating Committee member and and Standards Committee board liaison.  He can be reached at jnmurphy@umc.edu.

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