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Victoria College helps area students explore health careers

June 15, 2013 at 1:15 a.m.

Morgan Klaevemann and Jackie Gonzalez both of Refugio High School and Aaron Cardinale, Lauren Kelso and Deshea Hernandez of Austwell-Tivoli High School listen to Larry Dunn, Victoria College Medical Lab Technology Program chairman and instructor.

A handful of high school students and recent graduates gave up fun in the sun to spend four days discovering health careers in Victoria.

Ten students from Goliad, Refugio, Austwell-Tivoli and Gonzales schools attended the annual Health Careers Exploration and Observation Days event.

The event is geared toward students who participated in a yearlong health careers class at their school, according to Jody Sanders, senior program coordinator for the Texas Area Health Education Center East - Victoria Region.

"Our focus for this school year was to provide students in our rural areas who may not have specialty clubs or organizations with the opportunity to network with like-minded students who want to enter health professions," Sanders said. "These students met once a month at their respective schools to learn about health careers and the health care industry."

Sanders said the students explored Citizens Medical Center and DeTar Navarro and were exposed to the educational programs offered at Victoria College and the University of Houston-Victoria.

"This 'grow our own' mindset enables us to plant the seeds of interest in the health care industry, and hopefully after completing their education, they will enter the rural and local workforce one day," Sanders said.

Larry Dunn, Victoria College Medical Lab Technology Program chairman and instructor, introduced the students to blood testing procedures.

Clad in white lab coats and purple rubber gloves, the students performed blood bank testing exercises using cells, serums, test tubes and centrifuges.

The next stop was a classroom where the students were greeted by Chris Kallus, respiratory care program chairman and instructor.

He separated the students into groups of two and rotated them through four stations where they learned about lung functions and how to administer oxygen and intubate, or insert a tube into a patient, and experienced a vibrating vest used to shake phlegm from the lungs.

Recent Austwell-Tivoli graduate Aaron Cardinale described the four-day program as "amazing."

"Our high school classes came here on field trips and looked at the Nursing Program, but this is far more in-depth," Cardinale said of the Health Careers Exploration and Observation Days event. "This has proven to be extremely educational."

Recent Gonzales High School graduate Rebecca Cockcroft wants to work for a year as a certified nurse's aide and then attend Victoria College to earn an associate degree in nursing.

She enjoyed the respiratory care lab, where students learned about lung functions, oxygen applications and patient care.

"This has been a terrific experience," Cockcroft said.

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