The Killeen Independent School District is helping high school students prepare for jobs in the growing field of health care at its new Career Center.
The Center’s Health Science cluster is one of nine at the new facility, and allows students enrolled in classes the chance to get hands-on training in a number of health care and medical related fields.
“These students will come out of this program with a solid grasp of the skills, techniques and terminology that they will need,” said Christie Egbert, who teaches clinical rotation and pharmacy tech classes. “It will really give them a great head start.”
The health sciences cluster contains a number of programs, including nursing, pharmacy tech, phlebotomy and emergency medical technician classes.
The cluster also features a medical administration program, with classes in accounting, insurance and medical coding.
Students, mainly high school juniors and seniors, who complete the programs will be able to earn nationally-recognized professional certifications at the end of high school or once they turn 18.
“The courses are rigourous, they are adult-level courses that will prepare them to earn their certification,” Egbert said. “But our students are very driven, and I think they know rewards are worth the time and effort.”
That effort includes not only traditional classroom learning, but hands-on experience as well. Students spend time in the center’s simulated clinic, which features real hospital beds and equipment, as well as simulated patient “dummies.”
“It’s pretty great to be able to get that kind of experience,” said Donte Wilson, a Killeen High senior in Egbert’s class. “You really get a feel for what it’s actually going to be like.”
Ramone Houston, a Harker Heights High School senior in the phlebotomy program, agreed. He and the other students have been practicing drawing fake blood from specially-made arms that simulate human skin. Eventually, they will have to do it to real people, and will need to complete at least 100 successful venipunctures to be able to pass the class.
Health sciences students don’t just get their training in the Career Center either, many are required to spend time in the field as well. Students like Wilson go to Metroplex Hospital in Killeen three days a week shadowing and observing nurses and other professionals.
Cristina Garcia, a Killeen High School senior in the center’s EMT program, said she was able to ride along with EMT’s in Killeen.
“It was a pretty incredible experience, because you get to see what it’s really like to go out on a call,” Garcia said. “It’s great to be able to see what you are learning in class, and how it is used in the field.”
In addition to learning job skills that could give them an advantage if they enter the health care industry, phlebotomy and EMT teacher Rebecca Hammontree said students will leave the program with a sense of accomplishment.
“Not only are they able to get their certifications, but I think it really gives them a sense of accomplishment, and the confidence as they go to college or get a career,” she said. “They are a really driven group of kids, and I’m very glad to be teaching them.”