West High powers up its health science program

Tracy Haun OwensFeature, Our Town Teens, West Knox

With Baby Boomers needing more medical services as they age, the health care field seems like a sure bet for a young person looking for a career. But there have been surprisingly few opportunities to get students introduced to this field early.

Enter CTE Health Science Education, a vocational technical program at some area high schools. Shannon Clapp, MSN, RN, teaches part-time at West High School, which is in its first year of the program. Clapp says the demand among the students was strong. She’s happy to have the support of West High principal Ashley Jessie.

“She knew the kids were interested in it,” Clapp says. “It opens up a world for them.”

The first year of the West program is focused on nursing education, Clapp says, covering everything from “bleeding control to health insurance.” She’s brought in professionals from different fields to show the students what the possibilities are in real-world employment.

“It’s important to expose them to different careers early on,” Clapp says.

Every student who completes the program will leave high school with a CNA designation, and for those who want to go further, Clapp says there is a program in the works for Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine to expand the educational opportunities available to local students. LMU talked about the program with area educators late last month.

Right now, there can be three-year waits for some popular degree and certification programs, such as the course to be a physician’s assistant. This program with LMU would change all that, for the students and for our region.

“They want to make it a pipeline school for kids from this area,” Clapp says. “They want to make it easier for kids here” to move into the careers they want – and we will need.

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