For the last three years at Leeds High School, students have had an opportunity to receive hands-on medical training through health sciences.
More than 300 students have taken part in the program since it was started by health sciences instructor Shannon Logan in 2017, who came to Leeds High School to teach after being a nurse at Brookwood Medical Center.
This year, there are 100 students enrolled in the program.
The classes are held during normal school hours and cover topics from Foundations of Health Science, a broad overview of careers and facilities in the medical profession, to Human Body Structures and Functions, which is similar to a traditional anatomy class. They also learn Patient Care Tech, a more advanced class that prepares students to actually work in hospitals.
At the end of all classes, students have an opportunity to earn CPR certification, and at the end of the Patient Care Tech class, can get certified as patient care tech professionals. Patient Care Tech is only offered to seniors, and the students have to apply for entry. Many of the students that have succeeded in the class have gone on to work at local hospitals like UAB.
The program is part of HOSA: Future Health Professionals, a national organization formerly an acronym for Health Occupations Students of America. There are 242 similar programs in Alabama high schools and 312 teachers. Jefferson County is home to 25 such programs.
“HOSA is an integral part of our program,” Logan said. “Our students do competitive events related to the medical field – medical math, medical terminology, health education, health career photography, biomedical debate.” There are 59 to choose from. After taking 16 students to the State Leadership Conference in February, Leeds has 11 students and chaperones going to the HOSA International Leadership Conference this June in Orlando.
Dana Stringer is the state adviser for HOSA.
“HOSA is a very adaptable tool that allows instructors to teach those much needed soft-skills,” she said. “It also provides a route for students to further their knowledge in an area of their own choosing. The HOSA guidelines and rubrics can easily be incorporated into lessons and provides time saving techniques for teachers. HOSA is a student led organization that builds our healthcare leaders of tomorrow.”
Some of the classes at Leeds that are part of the program can also count as a student’s science credit. That allows some that may be uncertain about their dedication to the medical profession an opportunity to try it out with very little risk. Some have taken the class and learned an early lesson that the field isn’t for them.
“I had one girl take the class and she was really determined to be an eye doctor,” Logan said. “And she left and said, ‘That’s not for me.’ Which is great. I’d rather you find that out now than go to college and spend a lot of money and decide then that you don’t want to do it.”
But Logan estimates that as many as 75 percent of her students start the program as sophomores and continue through each level until graduation. They’re able to learn how to check vital signs, they’re taught bedside manner and they’re taught venipuncture.
Through the generosity of local donors, Logan’s program has been provided many supplies that have helped enhance her students’ experience. Students have a simulation mannequin they’re able to interact with, a hospital bed and medical supplies. Some of those donations have come from medical organizations like ReMed South and Grandview Medical Center. To learn more about HOSA, visit hosa.org.
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