Medical Youth Residency Program - Real World Learning
Algonquin, IL
Huntley Community School District 158
Support & Sustainability

Medical Youth Residency Program

Our Medical Youth Residency program allows students in a capstone experience at the Huntley High School Medical Academy to experience a residency program in partnership with Northwestern Hospital Huntley. Students work through rigorous rotations in different hospital departments to gain hands-on experience in medical fields and mirror the residency experience that students undertake in medical school. Participating students work with practitioners who serve as mentors.

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In District 158, we define Real World Learning as creating immersive learning experiences that place our students in the world’s classroom: the workplace. These hands-on, immersive experiences help shape what our students want and don’t want to pursue in life beyond high school. In District 158, we feel strongly that part of our educational responsibility is to help our students narrow their focus and identify areas that they feel deeply passionate about to provide a chance for them to feel professionally fulfilled. We offer a wide range of opportunities to our students, ranging from medical residency experiences in the hospital setting to work in the hospitality sector. District 158 students are gaining valuable experiences that are shaping them as people, building their toolkit of soft skills necessary for success in life, and teaching them more about a chosen field (at least for right now), all of which help them shape their future educational paths.

Implementation: How We Did It

Huntley District 158’s Medical Youth Residency program was born from an idea and collaboration between the district superintendent and leadership of Centegra (now Northwestern) hospital system, which was in the process of building a new hospital facility in Huntley. Huntley High School was several years into implementation of a Medical Academy pathway, and the concept of a residency program at the hospital as a capstone experience for the Medical Academy emerged at the right time. The concept originated from a desire to offer students more than a typical internship or job shadow. The residency program allows Huntley High School students to mirror a typical medical school residency rotation system.

Intensive collaboration between the district and the hospital system, including the superintendent of schools, the high school principal, the assistant superintendent, Medical Academy teachers, and personnel from all levels at the hospital helped the Youth Residency program to take shape. Many details and formal agreements were worked out, allowing hospital security, confidentiality, patient safety, and student safety to be ensured. Several years into the implementation, the Medical Youth Residency program teacher from Huntley High School works extensively with a key liaison at Northwestern Hospital in order to make the program successful for students.

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Community Partners
Professional Learning

Community Partners

Northwestern Hospital Huntley is our partner in the Medical Youth Residency. They are an equal partner with oversight of student work, and multiple practitioners are involved in mentoring and teaching the students. We established this partnership from the ground up, as the hospital was being built in Huntley at the same time as the Medical Youth Residency concept was being built. Leaders in the district and at the hospital then collaborated on shared interests to set up the partnership. The partnership has multiple structures that ensure it is healthy and sustainable, including: formal legal agreements, human resources management, key leadership positions identified, clear expectations for all participants, and ongoing communication between the partners.


The Medical Youth Residency program links to our Project Lead the Way Biomedical Program, which integrates Principles of Biomedical Science, Human Body Systems, Medical Interventions and Biomedical Innovations. It also aligns to science and career explorations curricula.


We measure the program’s success based on quantitative and qualitative student outcomes, as well as partner satisfaction and professional growth. We have between 25 and 30 students successfully complete the program each year. Student satisfaction and college success indicate that the Medical Youth Residency has a strong positive effect on students. In addition, feedback from the hospital employees indicates that their mentorship of students has caused them to develop their own professionalism and craft, as they have learned how to teach their craft to students.

Professional Learning

The Medical Youth Residency program involves only one teacher. Her professional learning was embedded as she helped us to build the program from the ground up. She was trained on the Project Lead the Way biomedical sequence and has deep knowledge of her subject. Another area of support for staff has been how to focus on teaching while simultaneously serving as collaborator and liaison to professionals in the hospital setting. There has been much collaborative professional learning, and the medical professionals at the hospital have worked with high school staff and administrators, as well as with their own hospital administrators, to learn how best to mentor students while simultaneously practicing medicine.

Support Structures

The most important support structures for the Medical Youth Residency program revolve around student safety, adherence to Illinois School Code, and privacy considerations for students and the hospital. The district and the hospital entered into formal agreements in order to comply with safety regulations, including aspects such as:

  • Legally-mandated criminal background checks for any personnel working with students. This was a logistical hurdle, as we wanted our students to gain as broad an experience as possible without over-burdening our hospital partners by requesting fingerprinting of excessive numbers of their staff.
  • Student safety and protocol training to ensure that they understand and exhibit conduct that keeps both themselves and patients safe at the hospital. This training has been extremely successful, with our students being highlighted as models for safe and ethical behavior by our hospital partners.
  • Student training in hospital protocols relating to compliance with privacy regulations. Our students are able to participate in a surprisingly wide range of medical rotations and hands-on experiences, all with the appropriate considerations for patient privacy and federal privacy compliance.

From the school district perspective, this is funded by allocating a teacher, just as we would for any other class. The hospital has been willing to allocate a staff member who serves as liaison to our external programming. This liaison relationship has made the partnership between Huntley District 158 and Northwestern Hospital successful.

The Future of this Work

We have sustained and strengthened this program over several years. We have strong student participation and continued deepening of the partnership. Through this programming, we have learned that real world learning partnerships with dedicated community partners can be cultivated to go far beyond typical job shadows or career exploration to provide truly deep and long-term learning for students. We anticipate that this program will sustain itself for years to come, because it simultaneously satisfies the District’s interest in giving students a ground-breaking learning experience and the hospital’s interests in cultivating a motivated and well-educated local workforce.

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