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VC helps students learn about health careers during exploration event

June 28, 2014 at 1:28 a.m.

Students taking part in this year's Health Careers Exploration and Observation Days are, front row, from left, Griselda Lopez, Maryssa Alvarado, Shaylia Tilley, DJ Adams and Rahmiera Ross; and back row, from left, Erika Soderholtz, Landry Mikulec, Andy Garcia, Ivonne Piedra, Teah Camacho and Ruby Ramirez.

Eleven Crossroads high school students used four days of their summer break to don white medical lab coats and explore health care careers.

The students were part of the 19th annual Health Careers Exploration and Observation Days event hosted by Texas Area Health Education Center East - Victoria Region.

"The primary purpose is to expose students to the variety of health careers that are out there," said Jody Sanders, senior program coordinator for the Texas AHEC East-Victoria Region. "All of our students come from our service area, so we want to expose them to the educational systems, Victoria College and UHV. We hope they will return here to practice in health care one day."

The students spent a day at Victoria College discovering health care careers through brief classroom introductions and hands-on lab experiences. The group also visited Citizens Medical Center, DeTar Hospital Navarro and the University of Houston-Victoria.

While on VC's main campus, the students met Ricky DeLaGarza, Chris Kallus, Monica Hamilton, Mary Kitchens and Laura Crandall. DeLaGarza, VC EMS coordinator and instructor, gave them an introduction to emergency medical services and taught them how to save a life in a medical emergency before EMS personnel arrive. Kallus, respiratory care program chairman and instructor, discussed VC's respiratory care program and had students participate in several respiratory care demonstrations.

Hamilton, VC nursing simulation specialist and lab coordinator, and Kitchens, nursing lab assistant, invited the students to take part in hands-on learning experiences in the nursing lab while Crandall, VC PTA program director, introduced them to the various careers in the physical therapist assistant field. VC students in the respiratory care program and the physical therapist assistant program also provided assistance with the day's activities.

Sanders said that when the students were visiting Citizens Medical Center on Monday, they came across a former health careers and exploration student. She had graduated from VC's respiratory care program in May, and Monday was her first day on the job at Citizens.

"That's a success story, and that's what we would like to see for all of them," Sanders said.

Gonzales High School student Andy Garcia participated in the four-day event and thought it was a great program for students who are interested in the medical field.

Garcia said the presentations have solidified his decision to go into the medical field.

Garcia wants to become a primary healthcare specialist "or a doctor, as some people call it. PTA sounds really nice right now, too. There are so many options."

Erika Soderholtz, an Austwell-Tivoli High School student, said she had fun learning new things about the medical field.

"I had fun in the nursing lab, learning how to lift patients and being in the delivery room simulation lab," Soderholtz said, adding that she would like to work in a lab doing medical research.

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