Choosing a career can be a daunting undertaking for high school students. With the cost of college tuition rising yearly and the academic burden higher education can place on an individual, choosing a career to pursue can be a challenge, and careers in the medical field are no exception.
Western Oklahoma State College and Altus High School have created an opportunity for students grades 10 to 12 to catch a firsthand glimpse at careers in the medical field, ranging from athletic training and physical therapy to pharmacy, optometry, and speech-language pathology through Club Scrub.
Director of Nursing Education Carmen Nickel has seen the benefits of a club designed to give students the opportunity to experience a career before entering higher education.
After working with a similar club in Cordell, Okla., Nickel has seen high school students go on to become doctors, nurses and veterinarians because of the positive experience of the program.
That success spurred the establishment of Club Scrub in Altus last year.
“I want to be an athletic trainer and go into sports medicine,” Kylee James said. “I joined Club Scrub because I thought it would further my education in any medical field. I’ve learned to give a shot, which might come in handy some day.”
According to Nickel, fewer students are choosing the medical field and more medical professionals are retiring without replacements.
“The nursing and medical field is going to see a huge shortage by 2021,” Nickel said. “The goal is to get them motivated earlier and get them in the correct classes if that’s the career course they want to take.”
Students in Club Scrub practice on a computer-simulated patient for evaluations and have the opportunity to learn basic, medical techniques such as administering vaccinations and checking for a pulse.
“We want to educate them on why things are done the way they are, and allow them to have hands-on experience,” Nickel said. “We want to eventually expand to other high schools in the area and establish a shadowing program that allows students to spend eight hours learning in their chosen field, whether that’s a local hospital, funeral home or veterinary clinic.”
The club is for students interested in various health care fields or science professions who are introduced to the availability, demands, and rewards of a career in the health and science fields.
“I joined the club so I can explore more options of career choices, so when I get to college, I’m not going in not knowing what to expect,” Kinsley Moore said. “I love getting involved with my community and discovering new passions. Helping other people is one of those passions, and that’s why I want to go into [being a physician’s assistant] and possibly even dentistry. I’m a hands on learner and I think it’ll be good for students like me to be able to actually go into [Jackson County Memorial Hospital] and see firsthand what they do and potentially discover a life-long career.”
Students in the club are also encouraged to work in group activities, simulating the way a hospital, clinic or medical practice would operate.
“I joined Club Scrub to gain knowledge and have a head start on the things that I will learn in medical school in the surgical field,” Aliyah Gutierrez said. “I like that I can become friends with the other students that want to go into the same field as me.”
For more information contact Randall Coffman at email@example.com.
Reach Ryan Lewis or Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221.