Local students learn different healthcare career options


The Health Science II class at the Lamar County Center for Technical Education in Purvis learns about the different fields of healthcare that available for careers.

To emphasize the point, the Rescue 7 Flight Care helicopter based at Bobby L. Chain Airport in Hattiesburg made the five-minute flight to LCCTE Monday morning.

Deanna Dunaway, a Health Science teacher with Laura Fails, said the morning class is being taught about healthcare diversification.

“We see these kids come in and all they know is doctor and nurse,” she said. “So not only do we do our clinicals – we go to (Merit Health) Wesley and we go to Forrest General (Hospital) – but when we go there, they get to see biomedics, the guys who fix all of the equipment in the hospital. They get to see radiology, they get to see diagnostics radiology and they get to see medical lab and heart catheterizations. They get to see a lot of different things, not just a nurse and a doctor.”

Dunaway, who is in her fourth year of teaching Health Science, was a registered nurse for 17 years. She and Fairs open the students’ eyes to various careers.

“In our curriculum for Health Science II, we introduce sports medicine, physical therapy and all the therapies, veterinarians and dentistry,” she said. “We introduce them to other things. If they don’t want to see blood and guts, they can do things like take pictures in radiology. We get to take them to Pearl River Community College and they get to see the two-year (nursing) program to show that you don’t have to go to USM. There are other allied health programs where you can make good money coming out of high school.

“We do clinicals at veterinarian clinics, dentist clinics, a nursing home and an assisted living center so they can see the differences. They can see that there are other places besides hospitals where nurses can work.”

The 21 students in Health Science II spend three hours every day in the program because of clinicals.

“We are one of only two schools in the state that have a block program,” Dunaway said. “They get to go to two sites and they get to stay longer.”

Dunaway said the students contribute during the clinical visits.

“We teach them a lot of skills, like vital signs, bed making, bed bath, feeding and all that,” she said. “There are some things they can help with when they go to clinicals. That goes a long way.”

The Health Science have seen real-world experiences when a student realized what type of medical career they wanted to pursue.

“I think it was in the first or second year that we had a student who wanted to be an occupational therapist,” Dunaway said. “She was kind of on the fence about it. When she did one of her clinical rotations at the hospital, she got to see the child’s side of the therapies. She got to watch a child doing occupational therapy. She came out and said, ‘I didn’t know an occupational therapist worked with kids. That’s me.’ Sometimes you can see the kids have ‘ah-ha moments.’ ‘Wow, I didn’t know I could actually do that.’ That’s when it’s really worthwhile; it’s good to see.”

The two first-year Health Science classes are limited to 20 students apiece and there are vacancies, Dunaway said. She said students who have taken the Health Science classes stay in touch with the instructors.

“We have a lot of former students who let us know that they have gone through the CNA (certified nursing assistant) licensure and the CNA class,” she said. “All the skills that we teach them, they say, ‘Oh, my gosh, I am already one up because I studied that in school.’ Most of our students are in college for one of the healthcare professions.”