- Piner Middle School
Health Science Program Prepares Students For High-Need Field
By Todd Kleiboer
The past couple of years have certainly proved the importance of the medical field, and Sherman High School’s health science program equips students with the knowledge and skills to dive into the field.
“Seven of the top 10 jobs in 2021 were medical field jobs,” health science teacher Ryan Hawkins said. “Two were mid-level, not a doctor’s job, and so it’s something they could get into relatively easily.”
Freshmen begin in Principles of Health Science to learn the very basics and then transition into Medical Terminology their sophomore year to learn the words associated with the field.
“They learn the speech of the medical field all across the board,” Hawkins said. “Being able to speak the language helps anywhere where you’re going to use it.”
Students’ options open up the next year into Health Science Theory, Pharmacology and Medical Microbiology, and they also have a chance to take a practicum class, which allow students to learn in hands-on classes.
Many juniors start their practicum using the health science lab at the high school, which simulates a clinical environment and houses much of the technology used in the medical field. As well as learning through action, the course helps juniors apply for an off-campus practicum their senior year.
During the practicum, students head to Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center and shadow a specialist for a period. The specialist supervises the student and may allow them to do tasks like making beds or escorting patients.
“They’re getting to see all the specialties and all the departments and what they do,” Hawkins said. “They go to radiology and watch X-rays, CTs. They could go into the surgery unit and watch surgeries.”
Some students may mix programs, such as junior Tanner Mueller who plans to be a hospital administrator. Drawn to the management aspect of the medical field, Mueller is currently taking the on-campus practicum and has taken business courses as well.
“It’s the talking to people and knowing how things should be run that got me interested,” Mueller said.
However, his health science classes are providing a valuable contingency path into becoming an EMT. He is working toward becoming CPR-certified, and as an EMT, he “may save a life some day.” For right now, he’s currently practicing on dummies under Hawkins’ supervision.
Before teaching at SHS, Hawkins was a physician’s assistant for 20 years and an Army combat medic before that, and he takes that experience into the class and uses it to illustrate facts with personal stories.
“I can say what I have seen actually happen and how something is actually utilized in the real world,” Hawkins said. “I think it always helps to bring in personal experience into situations we’re teaching about.”