Medical Assisting Program Recognizes First Group of Graduates

     Published on 5/15/15   Tagged under:    District News   

Henninger High School senior Khalil Aljoufi described the patient—his heart rate was 142—he was about to experience heart failure. X-rays showed that the patient’s heart was enlarged. It was recommended that he be admitted to the hospital for treatment, but—at the risk of death—the patient chose to walk out.
Khalil wasn’t describing a television medical drama; rather, he was recalling a particularly memorable day of his clinical work experience, a required component of Henninger’s intensive Medical Assisting program.
Students in the two-year program have now been recognized in a White Coat Ceremony as the first group to earn their Medical Assisting certification. Each school day, the 11 seniors and 20 juniors meet for two periods. In the first year of the program, students earn an administrative medical assistant certification. In the second year, they go to the Syracuse Community Health Center to do clinical work, such as learning about body systems, EKGs, how to draw blood and more.
While the first ten weeks of their clinical work is spent shadowing doctors, the conclusion of their time is spent doing hands on activities like taking vital signs and completing and filing paperwork.
“I really like the clinical work we’re doing. It was really neat to be right there and get that perspective of what it’s like to be a doctor,” Khalil explained.
For Henninger Medical Assistant teacher Colleen Jackson, that was the goal in creating the program: to expose students to college and career possibilities in the medical field. As the first round of students completed the program, that goal had already been realized.
One student wants to be a registered nurse—another, an EMT. One is set on becoming a neonatal nurse, and yet another shows an interest in sports therapy or oncology.
Senior Carly Perry says that exposure to many medical fields is one of the highlights of the program. “What we’re learning now is a stepping stone for whatever we want to do—none of us want to be medical assistants. But we’re learning a lot of things we’ll eventually need to know once we’re out of high school,” she said.
For many in the program, that next step potentially includes medical school—a challenge for which they have now been well prepared.
 “They’re way ahead of new med students in terms of learning the basics and the terminology,” Ms. Jackson acknowledged.
“I’ve been looking at med school textbooks, and it’s easier for me to understand them because I know the terminology,” Khalil added, explaining that he hopes to go on to study emergency medicine or oncology.
Ms. Jackson points out that whether the Medical Assisting students choose to continue on a medical school path or jump into a career, they have benefitted from the program.
“The Health Center loves these students,” she insisted. “They see future employees. These kids know the business and the jobs already. They are so mature and they do so well. They are walking away from high school not only with a career, but also prepared with a head start in college.”
Word about the Medical Assisting program has now spread, and Ms. Jackson said she has 8th graders who are already expressing interest in the program that will allow them to earn seven college credits. Demand is so high that next year, she will begin teaching an Intro to Medical Assisting class for 10th graders.
Amber Jackson, a senior, said her ambitions for the future have expanded through the program. “My mom forced me to take the class to better myself,” Amber explained. “I didn’t want to take it, so I asked the principal to let me drop it. He wouldn’t let me—my mom told him not to! But now, I really like it. I’m actually going to go to school to become a physician’s assistant. My mom is so happy I stuck with it.”
Ms. Jackson said she could not be more proud of her first group of students and how they have shaped the program. “I want the program to grow and continue, of course,” she said. “This first group of students was kind of like the trial drug—we tested it out, saw what’s working and what isn’t, and we’ll adjust for next year. They are my pioneers!”

Relive the White Coat Ceremony by viewing our Flickr album >>>