River Ridge High School’s Health Science: Diagnostics/Clinical Lab program teacher Callie Davis works with students, Mackenzie Pasik, left, and Prudence Mtendeleki, during the ‘It's Kind of a Big DILL’ pickle autopsy activity that teaches them about the role of medical examiners.
The Cherokee County School District offers 38 Career Pathway high school programs, which provide students with a wide selection of job exploration and preparation electives. Through CCSD Pathway Profiles, we’ll regularly share highlights with you from one of these programs. This week’s profile focuses on the Health Science: Diagnostics/Clinical Lab program offered at River Ridge High School, which is one of five different Healthcare Science Career Pathway programs available in CCSD schools.
One of the best days of the year for River Ridge High School teacher Callie Davis is pickle autopsy day.
Her Health Science: Diagnostics/Clinical Lab program students gown up in full gear and play the role of medical examiners to determine the cause of death of a pickle “person.” They gather external and internal evidence to help determine the cause of death, use appropriate medical terminology, complete a death certificate and document their findings along with a narrative describing how the victim passed away.
The activity, called “It's Kind of a Big DILL,” is among the favorites for her students, too. “The students love this lab and talk about it for months!” said Ms. Davis, a former medical technologist now in her 17th year as an educator. [Click here to see more photos from her classes.]
The Health Science: Diagnostics/Clinical Lab program offered at River Ridge HS is one of five different Healthcare Science Career Pathway programs available in CCSD schools. Ms. Davis said the programs provide students with hands-on experience and industry certifications for high-demand careers.
“I am passionate about providing opportunities to students related to real-world experiences. As the workforce ages and our community expands, we need qualified and skilled workers to fill employment positions, especially in healthcare,” she said, noting that River Ridge’s program is one of only a few in the state focused on diagnostics and clinical lab science. “The diagnostic arena of healthcare, such as laboratory tests and radiologic imaging, accounts for almost 80% of medical decisions in patient diagnosis and care.”
Ms. Davis said she’s seen the benefit of high school healthcare science programs, noting among her success stories is a former student now working in the cardiac unit of Children’s Healthcare of Alabama.
“All career classes strive to model and teach employability skills such as teamwork, communication and time management,” she said. “Employers are searching for qualified employees with the knowledge, skills and dispositions of a professional. Students who complete a Career Pathway have a higher graduation rate and are more successful in the workforce due to the skills they learned in career classes.”
River Ridge High School senior Reagan Karwoski is another success story in the making. She’s in her third year in the program and through it earned a spot in Northside Hospital’s internship program.
“Healthcare has become very special to me,” she said, noting she now plans to study nursing to pursue a career as a pediatric nurse “combining my passion for children and health.” “To me, helping the community in this way is the most fulfilling. I hope to continue my journey in healthcare and follow my dreams, which I know would not be possible without the life lessons and educational curiosity inspired by my healthcare classes at RRHS.”
Within the Pathway, classes offered include: introduction to healthcare science, essentials of healthcare and clinical lab I. Students can earn National Health Science Assessment by Precision industry certification and can compete with their school’s HOSA Future Health Professionals chapter in state and national events.
This Pathway prepares students for careers including, but not limited to: health educator, geneticist, clinical data manager, pharmacy technician, clinical research coordinator, hospitalist, family and general physician, preventive medicine physician, anesthesiologist, biochemist, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, registered nurse, pharmacist, nurse anesthetist, anesthesiologist assistant, pathologist, medical and clinical laboratory technologist, cellular biologist, cytotechnologist.
The average income range for careers in this Pathway in Georgia is $57,000 to $258,000. Local and area employers for this Pathway include, but are not limited to: Northside Hospital, Aya Healthcare, Biotek Labs LLC, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Kindbody, U.S. Department of State, Walgreens, CVS Health, Kaiser Permanente, Innovation Compounding Inc., East Coast Institute of Research LLC, Emory University, Artivion, Clinical Trials Investigate, Peachtree Bioresearch Solutions Inc., Cryolife.