By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
There’s an old adage, seeing is believing.
When it comes to Career and Technical Education, seeing is understanding.
Rutherford Works and the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce have organized a third week of industry tours for middle and high school students. This week’s tours are part of Health Care Week.
Beginning Tuesday, RCS students will be touring Interfaith Dental Clinic, Adams Place, Broadmore Senior Living, Boulevard Terrace Nursing & Rehabilitation, TriStar Medical Group, St. Thomas Rutherford and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Smyrna.
“They only know what they hear from their parents, their friends, the book and I see it especially in health science, they don’t understand a lot of those things,” said Kristina Walker, a health science and nursing instructor at Stewarts Creek High School, “so when they get out into the industry field, they actually see what’s happening and it changes minds, especially young kids.”
Walker will be taking nearly a dozen students to Interfaith Dental Clinic on Thursday afternoon.
Her group will be mostly comprised of freshmen and sophomores. She explained that it’s important for “younger students” to have real world experiences when selecting a pathway, especially a nursing pathway.
Walker said every year she opens her undergraduate class by asking students what career they’re interested in. The top two replies are brain surgeons and labor and delivery doctors.
She rolled her eyes and smirked.
Walker makes it a point to tell students “there is more to health care” and then quickly moves into terminology and basic lessons.
Students eventually choose between focusing on medical therapeutics with an emphasis on dental science or nursing education, anatomy and physiology or rehabilitation careers.
“What they think nurses and doctors and therapists do are much different than what they see,” said Walker.
“It’s all glamorous on TV. We do a chapter of why this is not like Grey’s Anatomy. Why this is not like 911 and it’s not what they think it is. Some of it changes to the better. They have a little more understanding and it’s not so glamorous anymore.”
Last week, leaders from the health care industry visited Stewarts Creek High School. The health care council is chaired by Chris West, assistant vice president for human resources for National Health Care Corp.
West told attendees, “We’re trying to bring together the health industry and education.”
Walker, other instructors and their students had an opportunity to showcase their health sciences program.
Walker said some in the industry “see them as high school students and not as potential health care workers,” so again seeing is understanding.
Only now it’s the industry who has also a firsthand experience and have developed a better understanding of just how prepared students are for health care related internships.