June 2, 2022
High school students eyeing a medical career were able to train in a hospital setting once again this year after being kept away by the pandemic.
Clinical experience is a critical standard in advanced health science courses, making a hospital the best classroom for students. For years, Albertville and Boaz high schools and Marshall Technical School students have completed rotations at Marshall Medical South as part of their curriculum. Arab and Guntersville high schools, and some Marshall Tech students, do rotations at Marshall North.
“We didn't realize how important clinicals were for our students until it was taken away,” said Suzann Peppers, RN MSN, a health science instructor at Marshall Technical School.
She noticed that students who graduated without the benefit of clinicals were unclear on how healthcare works or what career they should pursue due to the lack of experience and insight they get from doing rotations inside a hospital.
"Clinical is such an integral component of health science education,” Peppers said. “The clinical experience gives students a first-hand look into healthcare that cannot be taught in the classroom. Through clinicals, our students gain experiences they take with them for years. It also bridges the gap of uncertainty regarding what healthcare career to pursue following graduation.”
Students first train in a classroom setting at school then work with the hospital’s patient care assistants during clinical rotations.
“We are so excited to have our HOSA students back at the hospital for clinical rotations,” said Tami Howard, RN and education director at Marshall South. “We have missed having them during the pandemic.”
Once students are accepted into the rigorous health sciences program, they learn health care skills from bathing patients to assessing vital signs. Once they master those skills, they rotate through various departments in the hospital where they get the chance to use the skills they learned and to shadow a professional. They gain knowledge in areas that could lead to a career path.
“Being able to return to clinicals is awesome,” said Leanne Killeon, health science teacher at Albertville High School. “Nothing beats face to face interaction and learning from patients!”
Peppers and her fellow health science teachers are very grateful to hospitals for opening up their facilities to the next generation of healthcare workers.
“Thank you so much to Marshall Medical Centers for allowing our students into your facility to complete clinicals,” she said. “It means more to our students than you will ever know.”
Howard is optimistic that good experiences for young students will lead them to return as trained healthcare professionals in pursuit of a career.
“Our hope is that the students enjoy their clinical time with us and feel a sense of community with the hospital staff which in turn will encourage the student to choose us an employer,” Howard said. “We welcome the chance to partner with our schools and are happy to have hired several HOSA students through the years.”