Choosing careers: Health science students learn what fits them best

Published 12:44 pm Monday, March 21, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Editor’s note: Only first names are used for students at the request of the school.

By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

Students are narrowing their career aspirations to specific jobs through the health sciences program at LeCroy Career Technical Center.

Jackson, a senior in the program, said he became interested in a medical career about three years ago, but the program helped him determine what type of medical job he preferred.

“I am really interested in analysis and working in the lab,” Jackson said.

As a sophomore, he learned a little about what the health sciences program would include and decided to apply to the program. The application process included an interview, and he was accepted to start the program.

He switched to the pharmacy tech track this year based on his experience as a junior in the program

“I just wanted to help people,” Jackson said. “Not necessarily be that person in the room giving diagnosis … that’s why I switched to pharmacy tech this year.”

His initial interest in medical career began because of his mom, who works at Hatley Health Care.

“She tells me stories about nurses and kind of what they do,” Jackson said.

The pharmacy tech classes are the newest addition to the program. The program is a mix of online learning modules and more traditional classroom teaching by nurse practitioner Johnna Newton, who has 20 years of nursing experience.

The course gives a foundation of medical terms, common pharmaceutical medications, dosage calculation, ordering and regulations.

Jackson said the classes can be challenging, since the topic is so new to him.

All health science students at LCTC take foundational health sciences classes taught by Shellie Smith, who was a school nurse for several years before joining the program, in their first year,

Then, they move on to classes with a specific medical focus. Misty Cleckler teaches the senior-level classes for patient care.

The program has also helped Chloe, a senior in the program, solidify her plans for after college.

“I always knew I wanted to be somewhere in the medical field and I wasn’t really sure where, and I was told this would help me go in the right path and choose where I want to be specialized in,” she said.

Now, she plans to attend Southern Union after high school graduation to complete a two-year nursing degree. She hopes to work at Brookwood Hospital as a neo-natal nurse.

All students in the program have the opportunity to earn certifications that equip them for a job straight out of high school if that is what they want to do.

Chloe is looking forward to completing her patient care technician certification through the course. The test for the certification is offered in a proctored setting at LeCroy, eliminating the necessity to travel to a testing center.

Students in the pharmacy tech classes will also have the opportunity to take the pharmacy tech certification test.

Students also have the opportunity to become a state certified nurse assistant and become certified in first aid, CPR and AED usage in the course.

Jackson said the course also teaches students skills that they can use in any career.

“It teaches you responsibility and how to stay on track with your time management,” he said.

Jackson plans to attend South Alabama to major in biomedical sciences.

“After that, I plan on going to med school to become a clinical pathologist and work in a hospital setting in a lab,” Jackson said.

Both students enjoy learning in a program where all of the students are focused on the same interests.

“That makes it a lot easier to learn.” Chloe said.

In her second year in the program, Chloe has been able to do more hands-on learning with patient care.

Sometimes, students take turns being the patient so everyone gets experience. Other skills are learned by working with mannequins.

Chloe has enjoyed being a part of HOSA, the student organization for future health professionals, each month.

The past few years have a bit different for the program as the usual clinical work and visits to medical facilities were restricted because of COVID-19 pandemic concerns.

However, Chloe said simulating a real-world scenario in the classroom’s lab has helped them develop skills.

The hope is that clinical opportunities will be available to students again next school year.

Jackson and Chloe said both recommended the course for students interested in health care careers because it can help them decide and confirm what they want to do.