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Program Helps Teens Take Pulse of Medical Fields

Program Helps Teens Take Pulse of Medical Fields

Reading Eagle (PA)

The Health Professions Program for High School Seniors is a Cooperative Effort of Berks Career & Technology Center, Penn State Berks and Reading Hospital

In the blood bank lab at Reading Hospital, Sandy Kamel studied samples and figured out blood types.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Hayli L’Esperance watched a physical therapist get a patient up and moving, and Tiffany Jones followed a pediatric nurse on rounds.

The three were among a dozen high school seniors getting an early taste of what medical professions are all about.

The Berks Career & Technology Center, Penn State Berks and Reading Hospital launched the medical health professions program last fall.

The idea is to give local high school seniors interested in health care a jump on their education.

Carol A. Kuehner, who teaches the program at the career center, expects students, after they complete the course, to have a better idea of which health care field they plan to pursue.

Many young people go off to college with one career in mind, then decide it’s not for them, losing time and money, Kuehner said. The medical health professions course helps to avoid that scenario, she added.

Each week, students spend two mornings attending college classes at Penn State Berks, studying sciences such as physiology, chemistry and biology.

On two other mornings, Kuehner teaches medical topics such as ethics, hygiene, terminology and professionalism.

On Fridays, the students shadow health care workers throughout Reading Hospital.

The students return to their high school for regular afternoon classes.

Fleetwood senior Fazia Siddiqui and Hamburg senior Kendall C. Ernst recently shadowed intravenous therapy nurses at the hospital.

“I always knew I wanted to do something in medicine,” Ernst said. “I just didn’t know exactly what. Why not get a head start?”

At first, Ernst said, she was nervous observing in the operating room, but with each class and every procedure she watches, her medical knowledge grows.

She’s convinced her hospital experience gave her an edge in college applications. Ernst will be one of just 20 freshmen in Philadelphia University’s physicians-assistant program this fall.

In the pediatric department, Jones, an Exeter senior, watched as registered nurse Michelle Reeser tended to patients. Jones has realized in recent months that she doesn’t want to go into nursing or lab work.

Instead, the program has reinforced her desire to study orthopedics or physical therapy.

L’Esperance, a Gov. Mifflin senior, followed physical therapist Teresa Feiler as she evaluated patients recovering from surgery.

Several months into the classes, L’Esperance still wants to be a pediatrician. She’s also realized she may want to work with the babies in the neonatal intensive-care unit.

In the blood bank lab, Kamel, a Fleetwood senior, divided blood samples into test tubes as medical technician Micky Albright watched.

Kamel placed the tubes in the centrifuge, and after giving them a quick spin, she shook each tube and found the sample that clotted.

She got it right: It was O-positive.

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