HCHS offers a head start to health care careers

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By Brad Bowman

By Sandy Powell

Henry County     Public Schools
When school begins in August, students at Henry County High School who dream of a career in the medical field will have a golden opportunity to enroll in the Health Science Program--a stepping stone to many careers in the health care industry.
The Henry County Board of Education is offering this program to give interested students a head start to their career path.  Students will have the opportunity to earn Certified Nursing Assistant credentials after completion of the two-year program.
“I am extremely excited about providing a strong health science field of learning for our students,” says HCHS Principal Jim Masters, “because it truly provides them with the skills needed to secure excellent jobs in an otherwise unstable and unsure economy.”
According to labor predictions, careers in the health care industry will be in great demand over the next ten to fifteen years.  “As a district,” says Masters, “we were very conscientious about listening to what students wanted as compared to economic promise.  Utilizing resources such as “Job Outlook for the Future” from the Kentuckiana Works website, we were able to match student interest with occupational growth within our immediate living area.”
Dallas McKinley, a Registered Nurse who has taught a similar course of study at Jefferson Community and Technical College for the past four years, will be the Health Science Program instructor.
“This will be an excellent opportunity for our students,” says McKinley, “as they will no longer have to commute to Shelby County for these classes, which will benefit all students who are interested in any medical career.”
Katie Setters, a 2012 graduate of HCHS who had to travel to Shelby County for two years to complete health science coursework, is happy that Henry County now has its own program.  “Offering the program at HCHS is so much better because now students won’t be missing out on any of their home school activities.  I wish the school had started the program here two years ago!”
Katie says completing the health science classes has given her a head start on her career in nursing.  “The courses were very advanced and demanding. We were treated like college students.  Now going into college I already have the basic classes that I would have to take as a freshman.”
The new Health Science Program will offer three courses this school year at HCPS:  Health Science, Medical Terminology and Emergency Procedures.  
Students will earn one credit for the full-year Health Science class.  They will learn leadership skills, design a career path and portfolio, work on communication skills, develop professional qualities,  perform medical math calculations and conversions, understand the structure of healthcare systems, and analyze both ethical and legal responsibilities in the workplace.
Students will earn one credit by taking the Medical Terminology class for half of the year and the Emergency Procedures class for the other half.
In the Medical Terminology class, students will learn how to correctly spell medical terms and how to determine the meaning of a word by breaking it down into its prefix, root, and suffix. Students will also learn to combine medical words to denote anatomical regions, structures and directions of the body.
In the Emergency Procedures class, students will learn CPR for adults, children, and infants. They will also learn how to perform first aid in a variety of situations and emergencies. Upon completion of the Emergency Procedures class, students will receive an American Heart Association First Aid Certification and a Basic Life Support CPR Healthcare Provider Certification.
In their second year of the program, students will earn two credits by taking the advanced Health Science class that will give them practical training and experience in a long-term facility setting, through a partnership with Homestead Nursing Center in New Castle.  

In this class, students will first learn the role of the nursing assistant and demonstrate that they can perform basic nursing skills with safety and efficiency, including taking vital signs, administering a bed bath, making beds and assisting residents with all of their activities of daily living.  They will then have the opportunity to demonstrate these skills, under the teacher’s supervision and during school hours, at Homestead Nursing Center.  Each student will spend at least 16 hours doing hands-on clinical work.
“Students who take all four classes will have the opportunity to take a state test and become employable out of high school as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), also often termed a Medicaid Nurse Aide (MNA),” notes McKinley.  “Some students may choose this as their career, while others can use this as their first step in a nursing or medical career.”
McKinley emphasizes, “These classes will benefit students who want to pursue a variety of medical careers, including those wanting to become doctors, veterinarians, dentists, dental hygienists, surgical techs, medical assistants, paramedics, pharmacists and nurses. The classes will give students a strong foundation for whatever medical career they may choose.”
Superintendent Tim Abrams is excited to see this program grow.  “Under the leadership of Dallas McKinley, the instructor, and the partnership with Homestead Nursing Home, I see nothing but positive opportunities for our students,” says Abrams.
Classes in the Health Science program are offered to students in grades 10-12.  Students or parents who would like to know more about the program may contact Shawn Coomes at 845-8670 for more information and program enrollment.