Students get hands on learning

Published 10:13 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chicken breasts were split open and sewed together.

“Drunk” goggles were handed out in the hallway.

And ultrasounds results were shown on a giant projector screen.

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This was not the average homeroom.

More than 60 students from all three of the public high schools came to Sentara Obici hospital Wednesday morning to get an up close look at what a career in healthcare really is.

“In order to know if you want to be in healthcare, you have to know the sights, the feel, the smell of healthcare,” said Rose Mary Jones, the health occupations teacher at the high schools.

The students who participated in the event all have either taken Jones’ Introduction to Health Occupations class or are members of the Health Occupations Students of American organization at their school. Health occupations could be anything in the medical field ranging from doctors and nurses to nutritionists and physical therapists.

As a partnership with Obici, some of the hospital’s staff takes time to meet with the students and work on skills such as analyzing skin for sun damage, infant care and stitches.

“It’s been interesting,” said Lindsey Spiker, a freshman at King’s Fork High School. “It’s been an opportunity to open my eyes to a lot of different things.”

Classmate Courtney Salley agreed.

“It’s been fun,” she said. “It’s made me learn a lot of things that I thought I knew.”

The students got to spend the morning at the hospital participating in different activities and visiting different aspects in healthcare, which was a highlight for a lot of the students.

“We got to experience different careers and activities to learn what we like,” said Nathalie Henson. “It’s a jumpstart to whatever career we want to do.”

And jumpstarting these students’ interests is exactly the point, Jones said.

“Anytime you can have hands on learning and you can relate what you learn, it’s good,” Jones said. “You can read a book, but when you have hands on experience, you can know if you’re good at it.”

This is the fourth year of the event, and Jones said she now has students who are pursuing full-time health care professions who were in the first crop of the classes to take part in the program.

“That’s what we want,” Jones said. “We hope we leave nursing in better hands. We see them as our way of improving our field.”