Health Science program gives students jump start into medical field

Nadine Rogers supervising her students as they practice using the defribillator

Nadine Rogers supervising her students as they practice using the defribillator.

Quietly and competently the Demopolis High School senior girls go through the drill of practicing life-saving skills.

Using plastic mannequins of both adult torsos and infants, they perform CPR and use defibrillators. They take blood pressure and monitor other vital signs.

To one side of the classroom are hospital beds peopled by full-sized mannequins where the students learn to maneuver, bathe and feed patients and make up beds.

All of this, said their instructor, Nadine Rogers, is to prepare them to take the exam for the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) classification. With that in hand, the young women will be ready to enter the work force immediately upon graduation.

But Rogers, a Registered Nurse herself, hopes the training they receive here will encourage her students to continue their education by enrolling in nursing school to become a Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse. At least one of her students has gone even further into the medical field and has become a doctor.

We want to have more of these students pass the certification board, and we want them to get jobs,” said Rogers. Further, she added, she wants them to “go on to college in a health-related field because there are so many jobs out there.”

The Health Science career track became part of DHS three years ago when the Marengo County Technical Center closed. CNA courses had been offered in Linden since 1977, and Rogers taught the program for many years.

A student practicing CPR on an infant manikin.

A student practicing CPR on an infant manikin.

She not only teaches DHS students but two nights a week she holds classes for adults as well.

To be eligible for the CNA class students must take her courses on the Foundation of Health Science and medical terminology. While not required students also can take the Health Occupations class co-sponsored with Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital that gives an overview of careers in the medical field.

Students also take anatomy and physiology as well as chemistry to get the background they need for certification and further education.

Her students do more than practice in the classroom. Wearing their white uniforms and ID badges, they receive hands-on experience at the hospital and at both Woodhaven Manor and Marengo County Nursing Home. There they take vitals, bathe patients and, at the hospital, rotate among all the divisions to become familiar with different areas of medicine.

“They are just energized” when they work with patients, she continued. “They enjoy it. They really enjoy it.”

Rogers is proud of her students. They are self-motivated and work hard to hone their skills. She starts them off with the basics, such as CPR, and they learn how to assess a medical situation and know the steps to follow.

“It’s all about the patient,” she said.

Rogers also takes them to visit nursing schools in the state to find out what programs are offered and the financial aid available to them.

The schools are glad to welcome them, Rogers said with a smile. “I’ve had great response back from the schools” on how well prepared the students are for further education.

Megan Hill, left, and Zavione Aldrige working at Woodhaven Manor Nursing Home.

Megan Hill, left, and Zavione Aldrige working at Woodhaven Manor Nursing Home.

The program at DHS has been well received, Rogers said. The administration has helped provide new beds and simulators for training, and the hospital donations have been generous.

Eight seniors are enrolled in the CNA class this year but she can take up to 12 and looks for the number of students enrolling in the program to increase. To expand much further, of course, would mean having to add more staff.

The more immediate goal of the administration is looking to get the lab area divided from the classroom, Rogers continued.

She is always looking for ways to help students find the funding to go further in their education. Already they have begun applications for scholarship from the hospital auxiliary. Next month they will go to the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) state leadership conference in Montgomery and compete on the state level for nursing assistant. If students place at state, they will to go nationals in California in June.

This story is part of a series highlighting the career tech programs at Demopolis High School. The series will appear on Sundays throughout February in honor of Career Tech Month.