Crossroads students explore health-care careers

June 18, 2011 at 1:18 a.m.

Stephanie Ordaz practices physical therapy techniques with a fellow camper in VC's physical therapist assistant program lab.

Stephanie Ordaz practices physical therapy techniques with a fellow camper in VC's physical therapist assistant program lab.

Fifteen high school students from the Crossroads spent this past week exploring health-care careers at local hospitals, Victoria College and the University of Houston-Victoria.

Boys and girls entering grades 10 through 12 who participated in the "Encouraging the College-bound into Health Care Occupations" program during the past year had the opportunity to attend the program. Sponsored by the Pecan Valley Area Health Education Center, this annual program introduces students to a variety of career choices within the health care industry.

The ECHO Program is a grant funded through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and provides another line of support for students who are interested in pursuing a career in health care. In conjunction with participating high school counselors and school Health Occupation Student Associations, the ECHO Program requires students to complete career-related meetings, projects and other hands-on activities throughout the school year.

"As a reward for successful completion of the ECHO Program, students were invited to attend this program," said Pecan Valley AHEC Senior Program Coordinator Jody Sanders. "Now that they have participated in the program, they will each have the opportunity to apply for one of five $1,500 scholarships, also funded by the coordinating board as part of the ECHO grant program."

During the week, students are given the opportunity to speak directly with healthcare professionals and learn about their careers in a variety of settings. The program gives students the information they need to develop a plan for reaching their career goals and encourages them to explore beyond the basics.

To begin the week, students observed activities in various hospital departments such as physical therapy, radiology and the pharmacy at both Citizens' Medical Center and DeTar Healthcare System.

At the end of the week, program activities included participation in hands-on health labs in nursing, medical lab technology, physical therapist assistant and respiratory therapy at VC. Students also got a first-hand look at the state-of-the-art facilities in VC's Health Sciences Center. Students then spend a day at UHV exploring advanced level nursing programs and receiving program advising and financial aid information.

Refugio High School graduate Stephanie Ordaz plans to attend Texas A&M University at College Station to study biomedical science on her way to a career in forensics.

"I thought the program was extremely informational, it made me even more confident about my career choice," said Stephanie. "I liked the lab activities at Citizens Medical Center and in VC's medical laboratory technology program presentation."

Reynaldo Castro, who will graduate from Goliad High School next year, plans to complete a nursing degree at VC first, then transfer to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to complete a bachelor's degree in nursing. His plans are to work as an emergency room nurse.

"I feel like the program really opened some doors for me," said Reynaldo. "It was interesting to see medical and training facilities first hand. I especially enjoyed hearing from the ER nurse at Citizens Medical Center. He told us very interesting stories about what it takes to be an ER nurse."



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