Health immersion classes introduce high schoolers to medical careers

Students practice respiratory care on a dummy during a health care class.

Marisa Comeau-Kerege

Students practice respiratory care on a dummy during a health care class.

Marisa Comeau-Kerege, News Editor

Local high school students are now getting the chance to try their hands at different medical professions at Madison College’s Truax campus.  This first-of-its-kind program in the Midwest is a collaboration with McFarland, Monona Grove and Sun Prairie high schools aimed at filling future entry level health care jobs.  

The program is an intensive 24-week series of three hour classes running from Oct. 1 to Apr. 15, giving the students a look into different careers such as radiography, EMT/EMS, dental hygiene, occupational therapy and nursing.

In previous years, the college had offered a program called Health Career Exploration, but when many complaints from students and parents came in about the programs being simply a lecture and a textbook,
changes had to be made.  So in the summer of 2014, plans began to be drafted.

As Mark Lausch, Dean of the School of Health Education, explained, almost all of the programs offered in the School of Health jumped at the chance to be involved.  And, almost all are included in the new program, though scheduling conflicts blocked a few from joining.  Now, what used to be a drab lecture with struggling attendance has transformed into an interactive immersion program.

Although numbers this year are low with only 10 students, nine girls and one boy, once word got out about how much fun the students were having, the waitlist has grown.

“They’re having a chance to get hands on with every one of these health programs.  They love it.  They’ve been telling their friends and now we’ve got additional high schools wanting to do this in the fall,” said Lausch.  “We’ve got over 40 students on a wait list who want to do this, whereas before we had 10, 12, or beg to get 14.  Now we’ve got people coming to us saying, ‘Yes, we want to do this!’”

Migel Angel Lozano Ghilino, a senior at Sun Prairie high school, explains what
lessons this program has taught him.

“It teaches you what you are afraid of.  It teaches you what your strengths and weaknesses are.  If you were never introduced into this at all, you would never find out,” said Lozano Ghilino, who after starting this program learned that he doesn’t do well with blood, and is now looking at becoming a hospital administrator.

Lozano Ghilino, as the only boy in the class, has used this opportunity to get a look at the job market ahead.

“It stops me and makes me consider, well who is going into these careers and maybe I should consider stepping forth,” said Lozano Ghilino.

Kelly Oren, a junior at Monona Grove high school, agreed that the many different programs the students learn about in the program would help her in her future career aspirations.

“I want to be a nurse, so nurses can work with any kind of people and different floors of the hospital,” said Oren, who is planning on going into the NROTC after high school to become a nurse in the Navy.

The consensus from the students is that those who think they might be interested in this should go for it.  As Lozano Ghilino and Oren concur, you’ve really got nothing to lose.

“If someone came in here not knowing what they wanted to do, I think it would show them what they can do and get them interested in that field and excited about it and teach them more about it than they could just reading,” said Oren.

“It’s a big commitment and it takes up a lot of time, but it’s really cool to see what MATC has and all the technology they have.”

According to Lausch, this is the start of a new success for Madison College.