Bowling Green High School Medical Arts Academy

Bowling Green High School Medical Arts Academy

Health-care providers ‘couldn’t be more excited’ about Bowling Green High’s new academy
 
Kentucky School Advocate
February 2018
 
By Madelynn Coldiron
Staff writer
Bowling Green High School Medical Arts Academy student Jerico Howard, center, prepares to draw blood from school administrator Elisa Brown, with a little guidance from instructor Matthew Atkinson.
The high school administrator appeared more confident than the student who was drawing her blood in the Introduction to Phlebotomy class. But as he finished his needle-stick, she declared the process pain-free, and surrounding classmates erupted in applause. The student, Jerico Howard, breathed a sigh of relief and grinned.

“It was nerve-wracking at first, but I feel like I was prepared,” said Howard, a Bowling Green High School junior who is a student in the school’s new Medical Arts Academy and plans a career in respiratory therapy.
 
Bowling Green High School Medical Arts Academy student Jerico Howard, center, prepares to draw blood
from school administrator Elisa Brown, with a little guidance from instructor Matthew Atkinson.

His guinea pig, Elisa Brown, assistant principal for instruction and achievement, said the Medical Arts Academy has a maximum of 146 students in this, its inaugural year, “and I think we have an opportunity to really expand” in the future.
Certification tracks The academy was born of the school district’s partnership with the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, which studied the local labor market and future workforce needs, coming up with six growth sectors for jobs, one of them being health care. The project also dovetailed with the chamber’s work through The Leader in Me in Bowling Green and Warren County elementary and middle schools; and with Ford Next Generation Learning, aimed at the high schools.

“The ultimate goal is for every one of our high schoolers to graduate with a nationally portable credential in one of our top six sectors, have an employability credential – which is sort of our Leader in Me leadership training piece – and have a work-based learning experience,” said Meredith Rozanski, the chamber’s chief operating officer. “Our health care providers here in Bowling Green and Warren County couldn’t be more excited.”

Ron Sowell, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Med Center Health, the parent company of The Medical Center in Bowling Green and five other nonprofit hospitals, is one of them.

“We really feel like we’ve got to be talking to young people at a very early age – high school makes a lot of sense to us to be active in helping encourage young folks to take a look at careers in health care,” said Sowell, who also chairs the South Central Workforce Development Board.
Bowling Green High School Medical Arts Academy student Lauren Johnson practices drawing blood on a training “arm.”
At the ceremony launching the Medical Arts Academy last year, Sowell was there handing out his business card to students. He said his company, like others in the health care industry, is “having a tremendous challenge” finding qualified workers to fill its openings. When he later found out a company policy prohibited hiring students who hadn’t graduated from high school, the policy was changed to ensure Medical Arts Academy students who become certified before graduating can begin working. 

The two major local health care providers have donated equipment and supplies for the program. A state Work-Ready Skills grant is also helping.

Bowling Green High School students already showed a strong interest in health care, and the school had a nurse’s aide program, Brown said. The Academy expanded on that, both in terms of career pathways and business partnerships. Ford Next Generation Learning’s academy model also brings regular content teachers on board to support students in the Academy, she added, “so that they see the relevance of the math or the science they’re learning to what’s going on in the career pathway they’re interested in. And we know that when students have high interest in what they’re doing, they’re more engaged and have higher achievement.”
 
Bowling Green High School Medical Arts Academy student Lauren Johnson practices drawing blood on a training “arm.”

Bowling Green Independent school board member Michael Bishop said the new Academy is part of the design of the high school’s upcoming new construction and renovation. The program, he added, “just seemed like a natural way to help with our college and career readiness for those young people that are interested in going into those fields to give them a step up. I think it has gone over like gangbusters among the student population.”

“It’s kind of going more in-depth,” said senior Bailey Buchanan, whose goal is to be a surgeon.

Several of the Academy courses are dual credit, and it’s also possible for students to get two certifications through the Academy, which is something many health care providers look for, said Matthew Atkinson, one of the program’s two specialized teachers and a veteran registered nurse with a master’s degree in nursing education.

The students range from those intending to go straight into the workforce to those who are planning careers that require four years or more of postsecondary education, Brown said. Even if they change their mind about the medical field, she said, “it gives them work ethic skills and real-world problem-solving, and those are valuable across all disciplines.”

Certification in one of the career tracks can also give students a higher-paying job they can use to help defray the costs of going on to get a college degree in any other field they choose, Brown added.
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