Wildcats do hands-on health care

Human Body and Medical Careers Internship teacher Fil Jepsen demonstrates how to change an occupied bed as senior Theresa Hicks acts as a patient. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Human Body and Medical Careers Internship teacher Fil Jepsen demonstrates how to change an occupied bed as senior Theresa Hicks acts as a patient.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor high school teacher Fil Jepsen stood over a hospital bed planted in the front of her classroom and gave her students a bit of sound advice.

“You never flick the sheets,” she instructed after warning about the dangers of sending germs and dead skin cells into the air. “You might as well have sneezed on the person’s face.”

On Monday, Feb. 28, Jepsen gave a lesson on how to make an occupied hospital bed and the basics of patient positioning, which are both required skills in nursing school.

Jepsen, who served as a Registered Nurse in the Navy for 20 years, has taught the Human Body and Medical Careers Internship class at Oak Harbor High School for four years. The class was designed for students interested in pursuing a career in health care after graduation. During the first semester of the school year, students study anatomy and physiology, but in the second semester students head out of the classroom four days each week to work in health-related businesses.

Jepsen has made connections with about a dozen local organizations that serve as internship sites for the students including Whidbey General Hospital, Best Friends Veterinary Hospital, Family Physical Therapy, Whidbey Vision Care and Acorn Dental Clinic.

The students spend Mondays in the classroom, but Tuesdays through Thursdays, their class period is spent in the field.

“This is a way for students to explore a career before they actually spend money on a college degree,” Jepsen said. She said frequently students start the year set on a specific career, but change their minds after they’ve dabbled in a few others.

Jepsen teaches her students first aid and CPR and gives training in the complex HIPAA and OSHA regulations. She said because her students are so well-informed, the businesses are excited to make them a part of their team. In fact, she said she frequently has to deny requests for interns because she only has around 30 students to send out.

Junior Kayla Roeseler interns at HomePlace Special Care in Oak Harbor, a residential program that provides care for people in varying stages of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Roeseler hopes to ultimately become a neonatal nurse and said she feels her internship is giving her a jump start.

“Just learning the terms and the basic skills has already helped a lot,” she said.

Roeseler works with senior Kevin Rector at HomePlace where the two help bathe and transport patients, make beds and keep residents company.

“It’s a lot of fun working with people,” Rector said. “I help them lives their lives.”

Each student will do two internship rotations this semester. The class has been at the high school in some form or another for about 25 years. Jepsen said originally the class was designed just for nursing students but has since expanded.



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