Supporting Paths to Healthcare Careers
Supporting Paths to Healthcare Careers
Posted on 03/28/2023
A lesson on the digestive system comes to life as students add clay organs to skeletal mannequins.

When Olympic High senior Cassidy Cortez graduates this spring, she’ll head to the University of Arizona to become a physical therapist or personal trainer.

She hadn’t imagined a healthcare career until her freshman year. She got a concussion during a volleyball game and met sports medicine teacher Scott Peck. After that, she took three years of sports medicine classes.

“Mr. Peck is a really good teacher and connects with students,” she said, “And I liked sports medicine, which made me want to go into healthcare.”

Stories like Cassidy’s are becoming common in CK Schools. “We’ve been building our health sciences pathway program to follow industry trends,” said Mark Anderson, director of career & technical education (CTE) at CK Schools. Healthcare is the second largest growing field in our region, Anderson said.

St. Michael Medical Center employs about 1,800 people and has hundreds of open positions, said Rhonda Brown, community relations director of the Kitsap Peninsula for St. Michael parent company Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

“About 90% of the workforce of the hospital is from the Peninsula,” she said. “There’s a huge need here.”

With COVID-19 restrictions lifting, St. Michael hopes to engage more community partners, including local schools, and they want to reach students even earlier, in middle schools.

That approach aligns with district efforts to expose middle school students to career options.

Students in a Medical Detectives class examine “evidence” after taking photos and documenting the details.At Klahowya, teacher Maureen McNulty pioneers a middle school course called Medical Detectives. Students solve medical mysteries by measuring and interpreting vital signs, examining nervous system structure and function, and investigating disease outbreaks.

CK Schools is also improving courses for high school students. Several years ago, Central Kitsap teacher Katie Staker was a catalyst for changing health science courses. She piloted a new curriculum intended to better engage students. In a recent lesson on the digestive system, students molded internal organs out of clay and placed them in pint-sized skeletal mannequins.

Students can earn college credits in health science courses, as well as industry-recognized credentials, such as CPR and basic life support.

At Olympic High, more teachers are becoming certified to teach healthcare courses. But Sports Medicine remains a favorite for students like Cassidy.

Cassidy and classmates appreciated the class’s hands-on approach, and they hope to see healthcare programs grow in the school. CK Schools supports this direction and has been in talks with St. Michael about hosting guest speakers.

Among the groups that hope to visit the hospital is CK High’s HOSA (Future Health Professionals) club.
Ashley Chamburs and Sophia Driskell are co-presidents of the club, which focuses on training in healthcare practices and service projects. Both appreciate the support school programs and their club have received and hope that schools can encourage more support in the future.

“There are such amazing people behind the CTE programs,” Sophia said. “They’re so supportive of all the kids and their interests.”

The interactive touchscreen on the Anatomage Table at Olympic High School provides students with an immersive, hands-on approach to their healthcare courses.