Truckee High School students train for careers in medicine | SierraSun.com

Truckee High School students train for careers in medicine

Shelly Purdy
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The idea behind Truckee High School's new introduction to health medicine science class is to give students exposure to medicine as a career well before they move on to college or the workforce.

"We don't want kids going to college thinking they're going to go into medicine and then finding after three or four years that they don't really like that field of work," said teacher Jenny Evers. "This class is a first step in the school's move toward providing career pathways exposure to our students, so that by the time they are in their senior year of high school they know what career they like and what they don't like."

This is the second year of the health medicine science class at Truckee High. It provides hands-on instruction and lab experiences in the medical field. This year the students will get their certifications in CPR, learn how to take vital signs, learn how to identify health risks and work with an outbreak simulation kit. The supplies for the class, including the outbreak simulation kit, which takes the students through the various stages and responses to a disease outbreak in our community, were all provided through a grant from the Excellence in Education Foundation. More than $5,400 in grant funds were awarded last year to purchase supplies like blood pressure kits, digital thermometers, physical assessment kits, models of the brain and heart, a mass casualty simulation kit among other items.

"If we didn't receive that grant, we literally wouldn't have any supplies," noted Evers. "And the number-one thing the kids say they like most about the class is the lab — the fact that they can learn with a totally hands-on approach." The class is designed to be a mix of academics and lab work. The students are exposed to a variety of different areas within the medical field, which gives them the opportunity to really see the huge variety of career opportunities available to them, said Evers.

There are currently 26 students enrolled in the class. Evers says it's a small enough number of students to still be hands-on but big enough to meet the needs of the school. She is hoping to grow the health medicine science program at Truckee High over the next few years into a series of four courses: a first-year introductory course, a second-year introduction to medicine course, a third-year advanced medical science course and a fourth-year Capstone-type course that would be tailored to each individual student's interests and needs.

"We have one student in the class who wants to become a plastic surgeon. And another who wants to become a veterinarian," said Evers.

Recommended Stories For You

By providing this type of career pathways course offering at Truckee High, the school is giving each of these students a leg up to their future careers. According to Evers, an important part of the class is that the students are exposed to the concept of a career ladder. They work together to identify where each student wants to go with his or her career and figure out what it will take to get there.

It's important for each of her students to understand that to make it to the top in any career field, you first have to start at the bottom. Evers hopes to expand the program, so that once students are in their senior year of high school, they will have opportunities to job shadow or even work with medical professionals in our community before going onto college or other training programs.

The health medicine science class isn't the only career pathways program at Truckee High. The school is currently working with an outside organization called Project Lead the Way to develop an industrial engineering program. Both the engineering and the health medicine programs are in the very early stages at Truckee High.

"The kids love it. They are having fun. They realize they are my guinea pig class, but it's a great start," enthused Evers.

Shelly Purdy is an Excellence in Education board member.