Professional Practice: Block-period class allows field site visits, hands-on experience beneficial in students’ future

Jansen Hess, Sports Editor

After fifth hour, Exploring Health Professions (EHP) students change into their scrubs and drive to a local hospital — their classroom for the rest of the day. They experience things most people only see on “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Dr. Oz.”

EHP allows high school students to shadow in hospitals and receive hands-on experience in different health-oriented occupations.

“It’s not like in the TV shows,” junior Bailey Bolden said. “It really teaches us what the work place will be like. It helps us see a wide range of occupations that are within the medical field. You truly get a sense of what it’s really like to be in that profession, whether it’s slow-paced, fast-paced, etc.”

She said EHP has been really beneficial in helping her narrow down what she wants to do in the future.

“If I hadn’t done this class, I would still be lost,” Bolden said.

EHP teacher Donna DeHart said she decided to teach this class because it keeps her up-to-date on current health advances.

“I used to teach Health and Wellness, and I really enjoyed teaching that,” she said. “I stopped teaching that. The opening came up, and I decided that it would be a nice experience for me to try teaching it. I do externships every summer at [the University of Kansas Medical Center] to keep me up on the latest stuff so I can bring that information into the classroom.”

DeHart said the class can save the students time and money in college.

Senior Makenzie Hanson said this class provides the students with experiences they can’t get in college.

“I feel like in college, it’s more of you have to find your own things if you want to shadow something,” she said. “In high school, it’s nice to get a feeling of each field before going to college, so you get a sense of what you’re interested in.”

Because of the class, Bolden said she has discovered that she wants to enter pathology because there are so many things pathologists can do, like work in an emergency room or in morgues.

She said visiting a pathology lab was one of the factors in this decision.

“I saw a uterus with a cyst, a gallbladder, a breast with cancer and a 12-week-old fetus,” Bolden said.

While visiting a veterinary emergency room, Hanson saw a lateral suture, a rhinoscopy, a colonoscopy and chemotherapy on a dog.

Hanson said the class has helped her decide which career best suits her.

“I thought I wanted to be a [veterinarian] at first,” she said. “But I realized that I wouldn’t want to be a [veterinarian] in just a small clinic because it’s not really busy all the time. I think I want to go into either physical therapy or speech pathology.”

Hanson said she is interested in the medical field due to her love of science classes.

“I feel like it’s a lot more hands-on, and it’s not the same case everyday,” she said. “Like, if you were in accounting or something like that where you’re dealing with the same thing every day. I feel like you get a big variety.”

Besides visiting the various hospitals, the students spend their time in the classroom learning medical terms that will help them in the future and at their field sites.

“In class, we do a lot of work in workbooks with medical terminology because we have tests over medical terms,” Hanson said. “It helps you in the different sites you may go to and the different terms they might use. That way you have a background about what they mean when they’re saying something.”

DeHart said, along with the medical terms, the students learn different rules and regulations.

“Some of those are federal laws, some are state laws and some are individual location’s rules and regulations,” she said. “The [students] are getting CPR trained. So, that and a couple big projects, like one on the history of medicine, how we got where we are on the medical field, are what we get accomplished. It takes a long time to get down the rules and regulations because you have to dress different ways to go to different locations.”

Currently, no males are enrolled in EHP, but Bolden said it’s not unusual.

“I don’t think it’s weird not having boys in the class because most girls want to go into nursing and that’s not a typical job for boys,” she said.

DeHart said, although the classroom time is important, nothing can replace the actual experience.

“The locations show the [students] the real world of medicine,” she said. “We can talk about it, and I can show DVDs, but until they actually get out there and talk to those nurses, talk to the respiratory therapists, [physical therapists], [occupational therapists], whoever, and see what those careers are like, nothing’s as good as the real thing. They get to see babies born and all kinds of surgeries. They have a say in the field sites. They don’t pick all of them, but they have some level of choice. Anytime you get to see the real thing, it’s better.”