Students prepare for medical future

Making beds and visiting residents may seem like minor tasks, but for several students at Oak Harbor High School, these are some of the basic skills that will lead to a long and fruitful health care career.

These students are interning at Homeplace in Oak Harbor. While working there, the seniors are learning the skills to become certified nursing assistants. To earn the certification they work in the health care industry while they study and earn more advanced degrees.

“I wanted to help people,” said Rashonda Jordan, Oak Harbor High School senior. She will test this summer to earn her certification. Jordan said the certification provides a stepping stone. She will gain experience while attending Bellevue Community College to become a diagnostic ultrasound technician.

Seven high school students interned at Homeplace in Oak Harbor for nearly two months. All are testing for the nursing assistant certification this summer. Homeplace has approximately 30 residents afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

During their internship, students learned how to care for the residents. They helped feed, bathe and generally clean up after them.

The students enjoyed the interaction with the residents. Jordan said the interns were nervous at first about interacting with the residents but that quickly faded, as working with the residents made them relax.

“It makes it more fun,” Elizabeth Gibbons said.

However, they did find some disagreements with the residents which could lead to some tense moments.

“When they shout, you have to learn not to take it personally,” Ragina Schulz said.

As the students go through their internship, which ends next week, they learn the various skills needed for the certification.

Rani Brennan, education coordinator for Homeplace, said she coordinates the internship to coincide with skills covered during classroom instruction. She will also meet with the students soon and talk about any areas they need help in. The interns have to learn 25 skills to pass their test this summer.

The interns weren’t just thrown into Homeplace. They spent the first half of the semester at local hospitals observing medical personnel. There are seven students at Homeplace and others intern at dental clinics and veterinary facilities throughout Oak Harbor.

Those students are taking a Health Careers class at Oak Harbor High School. In addition to the real world exposure, the experience provides college-level credit for students. They can earn credits for a nursing class or a PE class at Skagit Valley College.

Jenna Costello, who teaches the 19 students in the Health Careers class at the high school, said the class helps foster an interest in career areas where there are a lot of available jobs.

“I think it’s extremely beneficial to bring these students into the medical community,” Costello said.

She said the class offers practical experience that motivates student.

“They are excited to get out and do and not just sit in a classroom,” Costello said.

The Health Careers class is offered to juniors and seniors who have the maturity required and understand the confidentiality involved with working in the medical field.

Costello said the certification is the first step in students’ careers.

Some of the interns plan to work as certified nursing assistants while continuing their studies.

Megan Storlie wants to become a pediatrician and Daisy Dalimet plans to start studying nursing in the fall. Thanks to their high school experience, they’re already a step ahead of the competition.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 22
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates