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The schools in Klamath County were able to show off their healthcare-related programs Wednesday, Feb. 14, during the Meet Your Future Employees Tour.

Chaperoned by the Southern Oregon Education Service District (SOESD), the Meet Your Future Employees Tour is coined as a reverse industry tour in which instead of bringing students to industry, industry comes to the schools providing professionals with an opportunity to see first- hand how the next generation is preparing for the workforce.

“It’s beneficial for industry to see what is going on (in their local schools),” SOESD Project Facilitator Amy Lukens said. “It’s a way to create, or form, stronger ties between the two and foster greater connections for future career learning opportunities.”

Representatives from Sky Lakes Medical Center, Cascades East, Klamath Open Door, Oregon Tech, Leaps and Bounds, the Klamath County Economic Development Association (KCEDA) and Klamath County Fire District 1 spent an entire day with SOESD touring Klamath Community College’s and Mazama and Henley high School’s health sciences programs, specifically their Career and Technical Education (CTE) curriculums.

Through the implementation of CTE, students of Henley and Mazama are able to have a competitive kick-start to their future employability through a dynamic blend of theory and hands-on experience with a multitude of careers, including those in the medical field. Students can obtain professional certifications for First Aid, CPR and even an Oregon State Board of Nursing Certified Nursing Assistant credential all before graduation. Students also can earn up to 15 college credits accepted at KCC and Oregon Tech.

“As a school system (the Klamath County School District) the last two to three years we’ve been pivoting to the community and thinking that schools need to change. For years (the rhetoric has been) college, college, college; here’s your options,” Henley instructional coach Adam Randall said. “There are a far greater number of pathways to get from high school to work. We’re trying to get out of the academic business and get into the competitive advantage business.”

Schools in Klamath County are embracing the passion and curiosity that students have by offering an opportunity to explore and acquire technical skills and professional practices alongside the mandated robust academic knowledge.

In the Health Sciences CTE, studies focus on five career pathways: biotechnology research and development, diagnostic services, health informatics, support services and therapeutic services.

A student can take sports medicine one year and earn their CPR/AED certifications, and then the following year take advanced sports medicine to become a certified personal trainer.

Randall shared a story of a senior who will graduate this year from Henley and is a “valedictorian-type” student. Through that student’s participation in CTE, she had experiences at Sky Lakes Medical Center where she met a doctor who advised if the student has an interest in emergency medicine, they should start as a paramedic-EMT or firefighter to see if emergency medicine is the route they want to take before investing in secondary education.

“How many years ago and how many people would’ve told a valedictorian not to go to college? CTE is changing the narrative of what’s acceptable and possible for students,” Randall said.

Mazama assistant principal Sergio Cisneros said the drive to establish these successful pathways came both from his faculty and students.

“When students have an opportunity to work with their hands, apply real-world practices and rub elbows with professionals, their outcomes are improved dramatically,” Cisneros said. “We want to make sure that any class or program that a student takes is maximizing their time.

Whether they are taking a class here or in conjunction with KCC or Oregon Tech, it’s going to lead them to an employment opportunity.”

Currently, Mazama High School is planning to convert a few of its older classrooms to further expand its health science program with a vision to replicate what is found on college campuses like KCC.

No slouch either, KCC’s health and sciences programs offer many different degrees and certifications including recently added sports medicine and surgical technician programs. KCC’s nursing program boosts a 100% passing rate of students who’ve taken the Oregon State Board of Nursing exam.

“We have a great team and program here at KCC,” nursing instructor Lindsey Mosley said. Students at KCC can take advantage of some of the medical industry’s latest training tools like ADAM-X for medical scenarios and treatment training. ADAM-X is a reproduction of the skeletal and anatomical structure of a human. It has distinctive and unique human characteristics and features such as realistic skin, and pupillary (eye dilations) responses and can be filled with mock blood. KCC also has a genetic analyzer.

Professor of Biology at KCC Eleazar Guitierrez said that talks are ongoing with the Klamath Falls Police Department to use the genetic analyzer and have students help analyze cold case DNA samples.

“Despite the fact that we are a humble community college, we have research grade instrumentation,” Gutierrez said.

The latest piece of medical equipment housed at KCC for instructional and student use is the Anatomage Table, a machine that uses advanced 3D anatomy visualization for anatomy and

physiology education. Students can run through various medical scenarios either fabricated or based on real patient events as if the patient or cadaver was right before them on the operating table. The anatomy is presented on a fully interactive life-size touch screen and allows for exploration and learning exactly as if they were performed on a fresh cadaver.

“The idea is that when we have a graduate and they land at a clinic or research environment, they can say more than that they’ve heard about it or read about it,” Gutierrez said. “That’s somebody who is hirable, someone with real-world experience.”

Educators weren’t the only ones who were raving about the advantages and impacts of CTE. Students too shared their excitement about the program’s offerings.

Hannah Giacomelli, a sophomore at Mazama High School said that her involvement in CTE has been one of her best experiences in school and that she has many opportunities to do “so many different things” in the health field.

“(CTE) helps me learn about careers that I maybe will want to do in the future and will help me get into colleges or any other opportunity,” she said. “It’s a great way to get opportunities to do anything.”

To learn more about what CTE programs the high schools are offering, contact the district office at (541) 883-4700 (city schools) and (541) 883-5000 (county schools).

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