High school students explore health careers at interactive event

Participants in Health Occupation Day learned several skills, such as how to safely remove a patient from a vehicle and stabilize their spinal cord

By Julie Wootton-Greener
The Times-News

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — As teenagers gathered around a cadaver Friday, College of Southern Idaho biology professor Bill Ebener held up a human heart.

"What do you think about Daryl's heart?" he asked students during Health Occupation Day. "If you look at it, it's quite large."

He walked across the classroom laboratory to pick up the heart from a second cadaver. It belonged to Laura, a woman who died at age 65. She was seemingly healthy and had no bad habits, Ebener said, and her heart is about 1 1/2 times smaller than Daryl's.

Daryl smoked, Ebener told students. "What does an enlarged heart imply?" Students threw out answers, including about how the condition of Daryl's heart was causing it to work harder to pump blood.

A few students were sitting outside the classroom, taking a breather after what they'd seen.

Inside the lab, Ebener told students CSI likes to provide hands-on experiences and give students a taste of reality of what their career in health sciences will be like.

As the next group of students waited outside the classroom, CSI health science and human services department chairwoman RoseAnna Holliday greeted them. "This is the cool room," she told them.

In total, 212 high school juniors and seniors from across the Magic Valley participated in CSI's fifth annual Health Occupation Day.

More than 300 high schoolers applied to participate. Of those who were selected, 58 indicated on their application they're interested in pursuing a science, technology, engineering or math major in college.

To accommodate their interests, a STEM station was added this year—the one led by Ebener where students had a chance to see two cadavers.

Many students who are interested in studying biology or chemistry, for instance, will end up pursuing a career in a health science field, Holliday said.

About three years ago, CSI created a health sciences pathway. It allows high schoolers to jump start their college education by taking two introductory health science classes—allied health and medical terminology—and taking one of four capstone classes: certified nursing assistant, pharmacy technician, emergency medical technician or central sterile processing.

"What we want them to do is leave (high school) with a certification," Holliday said. That allows them to work or further their education.

Students can use up to $4,125 in state funding through the state's Advanced Opportunities program during their high school years to pay for dual credit classes, including those offered through CSI's health sciences pathway.

On Friday, morning sessions at Health Occupation Day focused on what health science programs CSI offers. In the afternoon, students rotated among 13 stations run by CSI instructors and students in areas such as nursing, dental, medical assisting, radiologic technology, nutrition, physical therapy assisting, surgical services and emergency medical technician/paramedic.

A siren sound signaled when it was time for students to move on to the next station.

At the dental assisting station, CSI student Jacellynn Czarny, 18, talked with high schoolers about types of dental X-rays that are taken. A dummy was sitting in a dental chair.

Celeina Aragon, 22, encouraged the teens to look at the dummy's teeth and feel them if they wanted. "They're clean, so you don't have to worry," she said.

Outside of the Health Science and Human Services Building, students at the surgical services station donned surgical masks and caps and learned how to drill screws into fake bone.

At the EMT/paramedic station, a couple of high schoolers volunteered to sit inside a Jeep parked partially on the sidewalk. CSI students taught teens how to safely remove a patient from a vehicle and stabilize their spinal cord.

It's a scenario students could encounter in the future if they further their education and become an emergency medical responder.

Copyright 2018 The Times-News

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