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Hands-On Health Care

Inspiring Future Health Workers One Discipline at a Time

Liz Bryant, director of North Idaho Area Health Education Center (NI-AHEC), stood at the front of the classroom quizzing middle and high school students on health care trivia.

“Does anyone know what Idaho ranks out of the 50 states in physicians per capita?” she asked.

All 18 students correctly guessed 50th out of 50.

The eighth to 12th graders were spending the day at the D.A. Huckabay Medical Education Building, attending Hands-on Health Care (HOHC). Hosted by Idaho WWAMI students in conjunction with NI-AHEC, the workshop teaches the visiting teenagers about the different career paths in health care.

Healthcare can be a blast, and getting students to see those really fun experiences is what’s going to make them want to enter and stay in a health field.Sydney Mena, WWAMI first-year student

The workshop was organized by Bryant and Idaho WWAMI first-year students Sydney Mena and Benjamin Worthley.

“When I was that age and I thought about health care, it was doctor, nurse or dentist,” said Mena. “I think an event like this is really helpful to show how diverse health care careers can be.”

The workshop featured six health care professions: nurses, public health professionals, athletic trainers, physicians, EMTs and dieticians. The organizers aimed to give the students hands-on experience with these jobs.

Two girls take each other’s blood pressure.
Gritman nurse teaches students how to take blood pressure.

Participants had the opportunity to practice splinting with active EMTs, give physical exams with Idaho WWAMI students, take blood pressure with nurses and wrap wrists with athletic trainers.

“Healthcare can be a blast, and getting students to see those really fun experiences is what’s going to make them want to enter and stay in a health field,” Mena said.

Living in Idaho with limited access to health care and health care education, younger students might not know of the range of job options available in health care. Even as medical students, both Mena and Worthley said that they learned something new about the health field during the workshop.

“I think it speaks to how important experiences like this workshop are when you can be in medical school and still be learning things about the general field you’re in,” Worthley said.

Mena, an Idaho Falls native, said that she never had opportunities like this growing up.

“I could see this being really valuable for a 17 going on 18-year-old about to put in college applications who wants to know what to major in,” she said.

In addition to practicing skills used in each job, attendees learned a bit about the educational requirements for each possible career.

“In the end, it is an educational thing,” Mena said. “But someone is not going to see a PowerPoint slide and say, ‘Oh man, I want to do this.’ They’re going to be wrapping someone’s wrist and saying, ‘This is what I want to do.’”

Young boy gets carried down the stairs in a chair by EMTs.
Student gets carried down the stairs in EMT stair chair.

Article and photography by Emma Zado, Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program.

Published in April 2024.

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