||Volume 14, Number 1, September 2001|
Health science curriculum
for secondary schools
by Dennis Hoy
Preparing students for careers while giving them opportunities and information to make good decisions is one of the mandates for our CAPP and Career Preparation programs. Paula Curtis, a Richmond teacher has created a course that students and colleagues agree does just that.
The Health Science Career Preparation Program at H. J. Cambie Secondary School, in Richmond was recognized as a "best practices" model at the Health Care/Career Education Forum 2001. The forum attracted healthcare professionals, district career co-ordinators, secondary educators and career program facilitators, and deans and directors from a number of post-secondary institutions. The day focussed on new strategies that would enable educators and healthcare professionals to work together to address common issues and concerns. H. J. Cambie Secondary’s Career Preparation Program was recognized as an exciting and innovative program for students wishing to pursue a career in medicine, health and wellness, or sports related occupations.
The health science program requires that students have additional course work in biology, chemistry, or physics. A Health Science 12 course gives students a comprehensive knowledge base for further study in health science. The specially developed course emphasizes anatomy/physiology, injury prevention and rehabilitation, nutrition, and exercise management. "The Health Science 12 course provides an excellent overview of human anatomy and physiology and empowers students to seek out opportunities and develop responsibility in an area of interest in health care/athletics. The course challenges students and encourages participation in active learning as well as teaching (sharing and collaboration of knowledge and experience)," states Katrina Fong, a health science student (1997–98), who is completing her nursing program at Langara College.
Since its inception, five years ago, the H. J. Cambie Secondary’s program has gained in popularity among students and other teaching professionals from various regions of the province. A number of secondary schools are implementing the program for the 2001–02 school year.
The time and effort of numerous businesses, community services, healthcare professionals, and post-secondary partnerships has greatly enriched the program. For instance, since 1995, students in the health science class have participated in a ride-along program through the British Columbia Ambulance Service. In the spring of 1998, students received an additional opportunity to attain professional certification as "first responders" through the Canadian Red Cross (40-hour course). This year, students are applying what they have learned within the school. Under the supervision of the school’s first-aid attendant, students are now responding to the first aid calls within the school and at school- and community-sponsored events.
Hugh Boyd and Hugh McRoberts secondary schools, in Richmond, are also involved in the ride-along program, first-responder certification, and school first-aid teams. Students from all three schools are enrolled as members in the City of Richmond’s Emergency Program in the event of a large-scale disaster.
Working with citizens such as advanced life support paramedic Jeff Watts, of the British Columbia Ambulance Service, has brought real life to this course. Watts comments that "the Health Science Program at Cambie Secondary gives students a solid foundation upon which to build a career in the field of nursing, medicine, or physiotherapy, among others. This innovative course is a must for students that may choose a health sciences career in the new millennium."
From the beginning, Watts has played a key role in creating and organizing the ride-along program, instructing the students in their first responder certification course, as well as planting the idea and co-ordinating the school-based first aid teams. Other sponsors include Rogers; AT&T wireless, which provided pagers to students; Richmond Savings, which helped purchase uniforms; and Scouts Canada which provided the structure and organization for the students. Students have been meeting on their own time to organize the scheduling, uniforms, equipment, protocol, and professional development. On a past professional development day for teachers, students from all three schools met for their own professional development.
Students from the Health Science Program have also volunteered with senior residents from Pinegrove Intermediate Care Home. "The visits provide seniors with friendship and support. Students are seen in a positive light while giving back to their community," says Kate Nordmann, volunteer co-ordinator at Pinegrove. The students’ maturity, dedication, and eagerness to be involved has given them numerous opportunities to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-life experiences.
In addition to these two examples of successful community partnerships, the Health Science Program at H. J. Cambie Secondary has also articulated with Douglas College’s Health Sciences and Sports and Leisure departments and with Vancouver Community College’s Practical Nursing Program. Students completing Health Science 12 will be given preferential enrolment into the health sciences program of their choice at Douglas College, where prorams include General Nursing (three seats available), Psychiatric Nursing (three seats), Dispensing Optician (two seats), Dental Assisting (two seats), and Health Information Services (two seats). Joy Holmwood, dean of Health Sciences at Douglas College, endorses the program at H. J. Cambie Secondary as "…an important program to prepare students to enter the health sciences professional education programs. Content and learning experiences provided in the program help prepare students to understand the requirements they will face at the college level." Furthermore, students wishing to pursue course work in the Sports/Leisure Department, upon completing the Health Science Program at Cambie, receive credit at Douglas College for PHED 103.
These exciting opportunities have given students direction and focus in their senior years. Through this program, students have become more confident and informed about the many career choices within health science that are readily available to them.
Dennis Hoy teaches at H.J. Cambie Secondary School, Richmond.
For more information about the program, contact Paula Curtis at 604-668-6430.