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Freshmen explore possible future in health care
March 04, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen From left to right, Gering Freshman Academy students Jaela Hardin, Kyle Schroeder, Kayleigh Hamilton and Jace Demeranville learn about careers in health care.

A career path series of classes was implemented last fall in the Gering schools giving students a first look at potential careers in health care.

Judging from enrollment, it’s fast becoming a popular subject.
Gering High School Principal Eldon Hubbard said the school’s 160 freshmen will have taken the class in its inaugural year.

“Kids understand there’s a huge need in the medical science field,” Hubbard said. “We want to get them some good experiences in the high school, so they’ll have a better understanding of that career path, if that’s what they choose.”

Pearl Johnson, a biology and physiology teacher at Gering High School, also teaches Introduction to Medical Sciences at the Freshman Academy. During the semester long course, Johnson gives students an ASoverview of the medical field, biotechnology, and potential career paths. Along the way, students learn medical terms; about ethical and legal issues; and some history.

Students, signed up in the program, recently visited Tamarack’s Wellness Center in Scottsbluff, where they learned how diseases were treated throughout history. For instance, an ‘Old West’ folk remedy used cow manure to treat a rattlesnake bites.

“We want students to get an early start on exploring possible career paths in the medical field,” Johnson said. “There are so many different areas in the medical field, and they continue to grow in number. We want to give the class a better understanding of what’s out there and what will be expected of them in those fields.”

The freshman program also invites guest speakers including paramedics, dentists, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, dieticians, pharmacists, X-ray technicians to visit class and share on-the-job experiences.

“Ever since I was in preschool, I wanted to be a doctor,” said Jaela Hardin, who took the course last fall.

“The class has helped me decide which field I wanted to go into.
Right now, I’m pretty set on becoming a psychiatrist.”

Freshman Justin Scott also took the class in fall. His interest in the human body comes from his nurse grandmother, and emergency medical technician father.

“When a class like this became available, I decided to take it,” Scott said. “I’m learning about medical ethics, so it’s helping me get on the right path. I think I’d like to be an emergency room ‘ER’ physician because it would be a challenge and always keep me on my toes.”

A student currently in the program, Megan Maser said she’s had a long-term interest in the medical field and would like to be a pediatrician someday.

“This class is important to help me to understand what’s involved in the profession,” she said. “It’s really interesting to have guest speakers tell us about their work.”

Once students complete the medical sciences class, they’ll take classes in chemistry, two sections of anatomy and physiology, and biology at the high school.

The exposure to this type of education has a real world impact, meaning it could land kids jobs. The practical applications go beyond books. The program requires students to also take two levels of emergency medical technician training, and is currently investigating how to credential students as certified nursing assistants from within the school.

“Some of the kids could go from a high school diploma to the hospital and get on-the-job training while working,” Hubbard said. “This course will also be a good base for those who want to go on for more education in the medical field.”

Medical science is one of several career paths planned by the Gering schools.

Last year, the high school added Culinary science. Before that, basic construction. Automotive instruction is scheduled to start in the 2016-2017 school year, along with welding production, accounting, digital design (graphic arts), programming and software development, web and digital communications and health sciences. A business and finance career path is in the works, too.

“The career academies being promoted by the state are definite career pathways,” Hubbard said. “We also try to explain to kids many of these courses would be advantageous to them in other career fields.”
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