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DHS program gives students hands-on health career experience

Rather than being in the classroom, Dickinson High School's health sciences students might be job shadowing in green scrubs at CHI St. Alexius or learning about the equipment used in radiology at Sanford Health. Wherever they are, they represent ...

Amanda Gunwall, radiology supervisor, Sanford Bismarck, shows Dickinson High School health sciences students how to use an Xray machine. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)
Amanda Gunwall, radiology supervisor, Sanford Bismarck, shows Dickinson High School health sciences students how to use an Xray machine. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)

Rather than being in the classroom, Dickinson High School's health sciences students might be job shadowing in green scrubs at CHI St. Alexius or learning about the equipment used in radiology at Sanford Health.

Wherever they are, they represent the beginning of the school's upcoming academy model, which introduces students to a variety of health fields. Students participate in 12 different job shadowing experiences.

"This program is really cool because you really get to see everything," said Sarah Braun, health sciences student. "I've been with a nurse to a respiratory therapist ... you really get to see all the different fields and then choose something rather than just going into college blind and thinking you know what you want to do just by looking online of what sounds cool to you. I think that's really important for students going into college to really get to narrow down their field and figure out what they want to do."

The program helped junior Braxtyn Braun decide she wanted to be a radiologist.

"I got to see a CT and the person I was job shadowing, they showed me all the parts," she said. "It was just so neat to know like you can just take this picture and you know pretty much exactly what's going on, so that was definitely a moment when I just thought 'This is me. I can see myself doing this.'"

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They get hands-on experience, including participating in a suturing workshop with emergency room doctors in which they got to practice suturing.

"It's not a textbook telling you what this person does. You get to go see it and you get to see them interact with somebody rather than a teacher telling you this is what they do and this is how you need to get here," Braun said.

Community members talk to students about their careers. This month, Amanda Gunwall, radiology supervisor at Sanford Health in Bismarck, came to Dickinson to talk about the job of a radiologist and show students how to operate an X-Ray machine and CT machine.

Such arrangements are useful to the community as well as to the students. This is teacher Bobbie Jo Johnson's fifth year teaching health sciences at DHS, but she said the program was started about 10 years ago to help meet the needs of the community.

"What happened was they saw there was a need for healthcare workers in the western part of the state, so that's why we were able to get a grant and start the program," she said.

Pat Billings, clinical educator at CHI, said offering these programs to students may help build Dickinson's workforce.

"A lot of times (students) think nurse, doctor is all there is, but there's so many other things," said Billings. "We're in need of surgical techs and some of these other positions so (we're) letting them know that that's out there and letting them maybe observe those roles."

When the school switches to an academy model, Johnson hopes to expand the program by adding the ability for students to get certificates or get a head start on their college education.

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"We're going to try to add more certificate programs, like the CNA, phlebotomist or figure out ways if there's a two year degree or certificate, if we can work with different colleges in the state to get them where they're almost done with it. ... where maybe if it's a (surgical technician) is what they want, maybe their senior year they're starting to take their classes and then they have only one more year instead of two years," she said.

DHS students Dalton Berger and Brianna Neitzke, who are both in the health sciences program, want to be dermatologists. They'd like to spend more time with the people they job shadow. Currently, they spend two hours a week per person.

"Maybe longer or more days actually being able to shadow. It's better than nothing, what we currently get, but it's not much," Neitzke said.

Dickinson High School health science's students look at Xrays during a workshop with Amanda Gunwall, radiology supervisor, Sanford Bismarck. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson High School health science's students look at Xrays during a workshop with Amanda Gunwall, radiology supervisor, Sanford Bismarck. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)

Related Topics: DICKINSON HIGH SCHOOL
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