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Port Arthur high school students learn health profession on way to certifications

The Port Arthur Independent School District’s Career and Technology Education program offers a health science class, teaching students about the diversity, skills and communication efforts it takes to be a medical professional.

The three-part curriculum includes a principal’s class, aspects of health science and a practicum.

Students become familiar with the aspects of health science, infection control and hand washing to learn the different facilities, skills and characteristics of a health care professional.

Barbara Minard, a certified registered nurse and professor, is at the helm of the classroom.

Barbara Minard, left, teaches Angel Garcia, right, how to take care of patient’s dental needs if they are unable to do it themselves. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“They can become doctors, nurses, surgeons, whatever they want to do; there is no limit to,” Minard said. “The most important thing we do is take them out into the community to work with real life people and help them decide if this is a career they want to be in for the long term.”

Students shadow school nurses, clinicians, doctors, health care facilitators and long-term care technicians.

For senior Angel Garcia, his favorite part of the class is visiting nursing homes and helping geriatric residents.

“When you are in there, and once you’ve done all the work, you just have time to talk to them,” he said. “You create bonds with them. That’s my favorite part.”

The Port Arthur native has always had the dream of being a doctor.

Jasmin Henly, a senior at Memorial High School, practices stretches and movement on a mannequin during Friday’s class. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to help people feel better,” he said. “I noticed that with my great grandma when she was diagnosed with cancer. I just wanted to be there in her last days and I wanted to do what I could to help her. Now, I want to be that help to others.”

Garcia said while the technical aspects of the class will help in his career, the communication lessons have helped him become a better person.

“This class will help me a lot in the long run, because I want to be a doctor, but it’s also helped with my communication skills and having a level of respect for my higher ups and patients,” he said. “I will understand how they feel, because I’ve had communication with them. I can relate to them, because I’ve practiced it.

“The program is a great experience, but if it taught me anything, it taught me how to be a better person.”

For Micah Anderson, the class has taught her a new respect for certified nursing assistants.

Memorial High School senior Micah Anderson practices putting on a sock on a mechanic during Friday’s health science class. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“This class has taught me how to have more empathy,” she said. “You have to be a special type of person for this career field.”

Anderson wants to be a pharmacist.

Jasmin Henley, a senior from Dallas, said the health science program has helped with her communication and people skills.

“I want to be a plastic surgeon, so being able to communicate with those people is important,” she said. “You want them to be comfortable enough with you to have that trust and understanding.”

Minard said she is proud of the diversity the program has brought to the school and the students.

“My rationale is that I look at these students coming in from the 10th grade and I see their growth,” she said. “We hope that they take this as a stepping stone for bigger and better things for the world.

“I had the opportunity to work with great nurses back in the day, so working with students, and seeing them become like that, is amazing. Health care is a special place for special people and we have those special students.”

Students are able to receive their CAN certifications before graduation.