GAINESVILLE, Texas (KTEN) — For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, North Texas Medical Center is welcoming high school students back into the halls.

"They get to see multiple different places in the hospital," said NTMC chief nursing officer Bonnie Hess. "Everything from the emergency room to the OB Department. Respiratory therapy, physical therapy... so they get a variety. In fact, we have one student who's interested in accounting, so he's going to spend a day in our accounting department."

"Definitely come into the program prepared to learn," said former junior volunteer and current Texas A&M student Mati Rigsby. "And to meet people and to use this as a networking opportunity."

The volunteer program gives students a chance to learn from hospital staff.

"I knew I wanted to be in the medical field, I wasn't sure where, or what exactly," said former junior volunteer and NTMC nurse tech Citlalli Rodriguez. "But as I did the program, it really insured me that I wanted to do nursing. And then as I started working here, it really pulled forward what I wanted to do, which is be a labor and delivery nurse."

Working with people one-on-one gives the volunteers an inside look into the patients' situations.

"The unfortunate thing is that when you're working in your local hospital a lot of times, you see community members that you know," said Rigsby. "You hear about what they're going through, their health, and how they're struggling. I learned from the experience that I actually didn't want to go into patient care; I was interested in preventative medicine."

Students who wish to volunteer can visit NTMC's website for an application. This year's volunteers will be entering the hospital in July, and all students are required to be vaccinated.