Highland partners with high school allied health classes

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WATCH AND LEARN: Pharmacy Technician Tonja Arnona demonstrates to Pearl River Central allied health student Jordyn Mitchell how to prepare a bag of intravenous fluid for a patient.  Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

WATCH AND LEARN: Pharmacy Technician Tonja Arnona demonstrates to Pearl River Central allied health student Jordyn Mitchell how to prepare a bag of intravenous fluid for a patient.
Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

Allied health students at the Picayune Career and Technology Center and Pearl River Central’s Vocational Education program are receiving hands-on experience thanks to the partnership between the school districts and Highland Community Hospital.

In an effort to help allied health students achieve a better understanding of different jobs in the medical field, second-year students at both schools have been job shadowing various departments at Highland.

Picayune Career and Technology Center students spend one hour twice a week shadowing the employees of one of the departments at Highland, said instructor Todd Smith, RN.

Jennifer Spence, RN said Pearl River Central students spend two hours once a week at Highland.

Some of the departments the students spend time in include, labor and delivery, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, the emergency room, endoscopy, the pharmacy and the laboratory.

“Its strictly observation, but they get to be side by side with these nurses and doctors, speak to them, ask them questions and see things they never dreamed of,” Spence said.

In the first year of both programs, the students focused on anatomy, physiology, infection control and other academic portions of the medical field. In their second year, students are allowed to job shadow.

“Not only does the program help encourage them, it helps them figure out they do and don’t want to do,” Smith said.

Smith said he tries to keep schedules flexible in case students become interested in a particular department and want to spend more time there.

Brittney Basoco, a Picayune allied health student, said she thought she wanted to be a nurse, but after shadowing two of the departments, she realized nursing was not the right choice for her and is now focusing on ultrasound and radiology.

Spence said she had a student who wanted to go into ophthalmology, but after studying the eye in Spence’s class, the student realized it was not the right fit for her and has started to explore other medical field options.

Smith said he has 12 second-year students and Spence said she has 18 second-year students this year.

Spence said the Mississippi Department of Education only recommends having about 10 students per class, but she had a hard time selecting only a few from her first-year class to participate in her second-year class.

“My second-year students had to earn their position to be here. They’ve worked hard last year and this year to be in this program,” Spence said.

Highland Community Hospital Education Coordinator Debbie Farmer, RN, said the hospital used to do a job shadowing program with the vocational technology students before all of the changes to hospital location and ownership occured.

Farmer said about two years ago, Forrest General decided they wanted to reintroduce the program because the hospital wanted to get involved with and help the community.

“This program is such a gift to any student who is interested or thinks they’re interested in going into a health related field,” said Picayune Career and Technology Center Director Joaun Lee.

Lee said there are many programs in the state that have a difficult time finding a hospital that will allow the students to job shadow because of liability concerns.

“These are more than students in high school, they are our future and right now I feel we are investing in the future of healthcare,” Spence said.