High school students explore health careers

November 27, 2012

Dean Tech students practice putting on sterile gloves. Dean Tech student check a patient in the HCC SimU Center.

One tag said, "physician," another, "nurse," others: "lab tech," "pharmacist," and "CNA."

These were the roles students from Dean Tech High School played one recent morning as they explored different health careers in HCC's medical simulation laboratory -- the SimU Center.   

"Patient simulation is a great tool we have," Michelle Sherlin, HCC's simulation specialist, told the students. "It allows us to practice in as close to real conditions as possible."

The SimU Center, on the first floor of the Marieb building, is routinely used by nursing students at HCC to practice taking care of patients -- computerized medical mannequins -- the way they would in a hospital or clinic.

"They have heart beats, they breathe, they communicate," said Sherlin. "You are able to talk to the patients, and the patients talk back. We're able to practice making mistakes."

The eight students from Dean Tech are all training to become certified nursing assistants (CNAs) at the high school and were brought to HCC for the day as part of a Perkins grant.

"They don't have a sim lab at the high school, so some of them are doing this for the first time," said Christina Holbrook, HCC's Perkins grant coordinator. "We want to get them interested in going to college by exposing them to things they don't have in high school."

The day's "patient" was named, cheekily, Falva Heltwist, a 73-year-old diabetic woman with an infected foot wound, history of smoking, and pneumonia.

"She's very sick," said Sherlin.

"How are we supposed to do this?" said Liliana Rodriguez, a Dean Tech senior playing the part of a nurse. "I'm so scared."

Depending on the parts they were playing, students were taught how to put on sterile gloves to avoid contamination, give an injection, prepare an IV antibiotic and perform urinalysis.

Dean Tech junior Kiara Trujillo used a syringe to draw a urine sample from Ms. Heltwist's catheter, but she was struggling.

"This is exactly what happens in real life," Sherlin said to the students and then turned to the patient. "Falva, your catheter is not cooperating."

Students also had the opportunity to watch the SimU Center's high-tech maternal medical mannequin give birth and visited a computer lab to get experience working with electronic medical records.

Photos: (Left) Dean Tech students Karen Velazquez, left, and Liliana Rodriguez, right, practice putting on sterile gloves. (Right) Velazquez and Kiara Trujillo examine a patient in the HCC SimU Center. (Thumbnail) Trujillo uses a syringe to draw a urine sample from a patient.


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