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A Taste of Wellness: 2 PHS Students Share Their Academy Experience

A Taste of Wellness: 2 PHS Students Share Their Academy Experience

With the 2023-2024 school year half over, PHS juniors Makenna Garza and Vivian Venerucci have learned quite a bit from their Academy Experience with Elite Medical Group in Sandusky. The pair, who spent time shadowing at the nutrition and wellness therapy office, opened up about what they learned and how it has shaped their perspectives on potential careers in the field.

When asked about the overall goal of the experience, Makenna shared that her aim was to "shadow Liz Bollini, a FNTP (functional nutritional therapy practitioner, a trained holistic nutrition professional), and learn what steps to take in order to create healthy living/eating habits." Vivian added that she "wanted to get more of an idea of what nutritional therapy does." Both students came away with a deeper knowledge of nutrition and wellness. 

The hands-on learning environment of Elite Medical Group stood out to both students. As Vivian described, "They give a lot of visualizing examples in the office on how they deal with patients and what they do for a day." Makenna Garza noted that while she expected to "know about patients' stories" and their treatment plans, much of that is confidential. Instead, the focus was on "informational advice such as what to eat, hobbies to partake in, branding and organics, and learning about our own bodies."

When asked about a memorable moment from the experience, Vivian and Makenna both recalled how a UV light was used to treat a patch of eczema on Vivian’s neck.  

"I learned that I have a really bad immune system, and it factors into my eczema," Vivian said. "The UV light treatment helped reduce the inflammation and it looked a lot better afterward. I didn’t know my immune system was bad because of all of the factors that I have so that was interesting to learn about."

Makenna added, “A few days later, you could see that her skin was smoother and less inflamed. It was cool to see what is offered at the office and to see the results first hand."

In addition to memorable moments, both students emphasized key lessons and takeaways from their time at Elite Medical Group.

Vivian focused on personal health habits, noting she learned "how to eat properly as in eating slowly, staying hydrated, don’t snack a lot, eat enough protein, electrolytes to keep hydrated, learn about your gut health." She added that dealing with stress was another area of growth, sharing that she was taught "to deal with stress you can write things down so you remember later on and have a plan set, set priorities, and have accountability."

Makenna echoed the nutrition insights, explaining the experience "contributed to not only seeing what is recommended to others, but what changes I can make for myself. I learned that balanced meals are important, and that drinking fluids daily is hugely important for your everyday routine. Not drinking water or getting electrolytes, has many side effects, such as acne and mood swings."

In terms of career impacts, Makenna said the experience reinforced her interest in nursing and "created a sense of background information that I want to know and encourage my future patients to know." Vivian admitted she is still open to possibilities, noting "I think it is very interesting and fun, but I don’t know if I will end up doing this in the future because I have another career I still want to explore.”

Both students emphasized the interpersonal aspects of the experience as well.

Makenna pointed to teamwork, sharing how she and Vivian "would assist the office with ensuring that all the welcome perspectives of the wellness group were put in the right position such as the brochures and bagging for patients."

Vivian focused more on the client interactions, explaining, "It showed me how you have to work with others and see in their point of view how they feel about something. Some days there are people that come into the office trying to get help, and they aren’t happy with the outcome even though it may be the best idea for them, so they try to find a plan for them that they would enjoy." 

When asked about her time as mentor to this pair of Pirates, Liz Bollini shared, “Makenna and Vivian are a great addition to the office.  We are a very small team of practitioners and when they come in we have more than enough to keep them busy. It really helps us out to have a few extra hands in the office taking care of the minor details that have a big impact on our patients.  I appreciate their willingness to learn this side of medicine. It is our absolute pleasure to teach the younger generation about the integrative approach to foundational health.”  

Overall, these two students gained tremendous insights from their Academy Experience at Elite Medical Group. From health and nutrition takeaways to empathy and teamwork skills, the hands-on learning opportunity allowed them to get a small taste of what a career in this field could look like. As they look to the future, both now have a deeper understanding of nutrition and wellness that will inform their path moving forward.

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