LHHS offering students health services curriculum tract

By Dana Delgado

Christine McCloskey has had to tend to many an injury, sprain, or other physical issue as an athletic trainer over the years.

It’s been a career in progress that has seen her travel about the state serving several different school districts. The Houston area native got her start as a student trainer at Texas A&M University from where she earned her degree and then spent two-year stretches at East Bernard (Houston area), Marble Falls and Columbus. She also had one-year stopovers at Eastside Memorial in Austin and in Iraan, in West Texas.

This year, as a part-time athletic trainer and primarily teacher with Liberty Hill High School, Ms. McCloskey is helping shape the careers of her students. She is teaching health science and assisting with the development of the program. Health science is part of the Career and Technology Education (CTE) Program in LHISD.

“It’s not much of a difference from being an athletic trainer,” she said.  “I’m still teaching kids about health care and the body.”

In the first year of a four-year phase-in, health science education at LHHS has been well received.

“Many students have shown interest in health this first year which focusses on the Principles of Health Science and Medical Terminology,” Ms. McCloskey said. “We have about 13-23 students in each of our five classes.”

Next year, the second year curriculum will be more in-depth but still with a focus on the principles. There will also be hands-on applications like learning how to take vital signs and CPR and students will have the opportunity to get their basic OSHA Certification that emphasizes basic safety guidelines.

In the third year, health science students will study anatomy and physiology.  In the final year, students will have the opportunity to prepare for their CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) or Pharmacy Technician certification and go out to do clinical, field work at area hospitals with whom the district plans to establish partnerships.

Part of the phase-in and development of the program includes the conversion of a classroom to a health science lab.

“It will look a patient’s room including hospital beds,” said Ms. McCloskey. “We will also have special mannequins where students can practice doing CPR and take vital signs.  The school has been very good about getting what is needed. It is projected to be ready for the 2014-15 school year.”

As part of the curriculum, Ms. McCloskey said students will also be learning about different careers in the health field.    She said students develop the skill to build their own career portfolio.

“Our goal is that when it is fully implemented in a couple of years, students will be testing for various certifications and being successful in a health career,” said the health science teacher. “Or, get them interested in going further.”

One of the biggest surprises in the first year of the program has been the establishment of such a large HOSA (Future Health Professionals) student group that presently has 62 members including members who are not students in the health science program.

“It is good to see students getting involved in these activities,” she said.

HOSA is a national organization with state chapters designed to provide opportunities for knowledge, skill and leadership development of all health science education students. The organization offers knowledge and skill competition, scholarships and summer health camps.

Present leaders of the LHHS HOSA chapter are Chance Nettles, president; Alexis Zamarripa, vice-president; Jaycie Pluenneke, secretary; Aubrey Covington, Treasurer; and Loren Finley, historian.

Recently, the group learned about the services of EMS when a Williamson County EMS unit came to the high school.

The group has also assisted with a bowling event as part of the Special Olympics in Austin. While the high school HOSA chapter has gotten off to very good start, Ms. McCloskey said she hopes more students will become involved in the competitions in the future.