WISE COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) — Math, Science, Language Arts and Gym are the classes typically seen on a middle school class schedule, but some students in the region are taking part in a unique opportunity.
Students in Wise County, Virginia are getting hands-on experience with the medical field in hopes of sparking their interest in a career early.
“We really know that in working with kids the earlier that you can work with them and get them interested in something, the better chance you have of having them carry that through to an actual profession actual training opportunity,” said Matthew Loos, Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for Ballard Health.
5th graders at middle schools in Wise County Public Schools and Norton City Schools have the opportunity to take part in a 9-week course offered through a five-year grant from the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation and with the help of Ballad Health. By exposing the students to these topics in middle school educators and health leaders hope to open their eyes to the opportunities they have in high school.
“We’re offering licensure programs like our CNA programs, as well as dual credit opportunities,” said William Austin, CTE Director of Wise County Public Schools. “Students will have those opportunities through Mountain Empire or the University of Virginia to go on if they want to get a BSN degree or, or whatever the situation may be.”
Some students walked into the class already interested in the medical field.
“My mom is a nurse practitioner and I think what she does is really cool,” said Ada Addison, a 5th grader. “I don’t know what I want to be. I want to be a lot of different things. I want to be an X-ray Tech.”
Educators said they want kids to recognize how expansive the medical field is.
“We try to teach all areas of medical and different departments,” said Yvonna O’Quinn, Health and Medical Exploratory Instructor at Wise County Schools. “We do the CPR, we do EpiPens, Heimlich maneuver.”
That hands-on experience is something the students are eager to participate in.
“I did the actual CPR,” said Aeris Odom, a 5th grader.
“And I did the thing that shocks them,” said Sophie Winebarger, 5th grader. “And while she was doing it, I just sang ‘Staying Alive.’… Because it’s a good rhythm to go with whenever you’re performing CPR.”
This is the second year of the course which is offered in the school systems. Organizers hope this will help address medical staffing shortages in the region.
Right now the course is being taught at Union Middle School. The next 9 week segment will be held for students at St. Paul Elementary School.