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CTE Series Part 1: Health Science
In March of 2022, Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) released a labor market report showing active job postings from January 1 to March 9, 2022 in the Rural Capital Area, which includes Williamson County and eight other surrounding counties.
Many of the high-need, unfilled jobs in the area require skills, knowledge, and/or certifications that students in Career and Technical Education (CTE) in Georgetown ISD (GISD) gain within their program of study. This series will take a deep dive into GISD CTE programs that are actively equipping students with the skills to fill these current job trends after high school.
Preparing for the Future
When you walk through the doors of the Health Science classroom at East View High School (EVHS), you might first be startled by the life-like nursing mannequins that lie on the hospital beds and sit in the wheelchairs in the corner of the room. These mannequins are just an example of how CTE instructors Meredith Brown and Pam Prewit simulate a hospital environment for students.
"The health science lab is able to provide virtual patient simulation systems with real-time physiological responses designed to strengthen the student’s ability to make critical decisions in real life healthcare settings," Brown said. "Our innovative products such as our AR/VR technology and nursing Anne simulation mannequin provides hands-on real world experience for optimal learning."
Health Science students learn how to insert medication into IV bags, work with needles and sterilize them, draw (fake) blood, study a vital signs monitor that you would find in a hospital room, and touch on so many more high-level skills.
“CTE Health Science definitely throws us into the medical field, and it’s such a strong start to have.” EVHS senior and class president Sophia Gokh said. “Yes, we learn medical terminology and have our writing curriculum, but the hands-on work helps us put the words into action and memorize that curriculum.”
Gokh, who will attend Colorado Christian University in the fall for Nursing, has been accepted to 12 universities with the support of Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Prewit.
“I’m a first-generation student, so Mrs. Brown has really been there to prepare me for what I am going to do after high school,” Gokh said. “She not only helps me with resumes, but has kept me on track as I think about the future long-term.”
The classes that health science students take throughout their high school career prepare them for certification tests, allowing those that pass to leave high school as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Certified Patient Care Technician (CPCT), and/or a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).
“The work that goes into preparing for our certification tests has helped us learn about the many different fields in healthcare,” EVHS senior and valedictorian Kayla Craven said. “Most of us have developed a huge passion for this field, and we are eager to continue learning.”
Craven will attend San Diego State in the fall to major in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Pre-physical Therapy, and has been accepted into the honors college.
However, if both Gokh and Craven were to decide to work as Patient Care Technicians after high school, their PCT licenses would enable them to do so, just as students who have received their CNA license could go on to work as Certified Nursing Assistants. And as the TWC report shows, nursing assistants are among the top current job openings, coming in at number 17. Registered nurses are sitting at number four, and personal care aides are at number 15.
It is evident that the passion for health science is alive at EVHS when you look at the number of students pursuing experience in the field outside of school hours.
“I started working at the CVS in Georgetown in March, and I learn more every day that I am there.” EVHS senior Xochiquetzal (Xochi) Moore said. “Mrs. Prewit connected me to the pharmacist there, and I was immediately interested.”
“Basically, Xochi does everything that pharmaceutical technicians do,” CVS pharmacist Nicole Sinsabaugh said. “She’s still learning as she goes, but right now she is responsible for assisting with the drive-thru, helping people get their prescriptions, and she is learning how to type up the prescriptions.”
After high school, Moore plans to attend pharmacy school, while continuing to work as a technician and expand her knowledge.
“I remember when I got my CNA license and was looking for jobs, Mrs. Prewitt stepped in and reached out to Wesleyan,” EVHS senior Frasisco Porcayo said. “From there, my future started to snowball.”
Porcayo arrives at the Wesleyan, an independent living facility in Georgetown, at 6 a.m. to help residents get dressed and ready for the day before ensuring they are all in the dining room by 7:30 a.m. for breakfast.
“Working with geriatric patients has changed my perspective on everything,” Porcayo said. “I do different jobs every day, from working in the rehab hall, to helping residents eat and complete basic tasks.”
“There were a lot of uncomfortable tasks that I had to get comfortable with,” Porcayo said. “But it is part of the job, and it encourages me to continue my pursuit in the health science field.”
Porcayo plans to attend college and become a registered nurse, with the ultimate goal of working at a hospital in the trauma unit. Porcayo is not the only student with an interest in the intensity of a hospital.
“I plan to go to nursing school and work towards becoming a pediatric nurse or an ER nurse,” EVHS senior Claudia Karichko said. “ER interests me because of the intensity and the gore.”
Karichko is currently working at Gus’s Drugs pharmacy in Georgetown every day after school, where she stocks and counts medicine, answers phones, and works face-to-face with customers.
“Collaboration and customer service are a huge part of a pharmacist’s job,” Gus’s pharmacist Kim Le said. “Claudia works well with our team, and she is able to communicate with her co-workers if she isn’t familiar with a prescription that a patient is asking for.”
Communication, team collaboration, and customer service were the top three soft skills that companies with job openings are looking for, according to the TWC report.
“There is no better exposure to customer service than working one-on-one with a patient who is picking up their prescription,” Le said.
“From my experience, I can say that this CTE program is huge in the fact that high school students have access to knowledge that people pay thousands of dollars to learn,” Le said.
“Leaving high school with my PhT and CNA licenses means that I am going into the start of my career with extra help and support,” Porcayo said. “A lot of schools I have looked at prefer incoming students to be CNAs, so that right there is a head start.”
For a deeper look at the Health Science classroom, check out these photos.
You can view the full TWC report here.