Richland High junior Ashleigh Beach says she never considered a career in health care until a friend convinced her to take a sports medicine class with her.
Ashleigh soon found she enjoyed everything about sports medicine, whether that’s taping ankles and wrists to learning how the body reacts to injury. She’s now considering pursuing physical therapy as a career when she graduates.
“It’s great to know I could really help someone,” she says.
Richland School District will have a new way to engage and inspire students like Ashleigh to pursue health care careers in the fall of 2020, when the district’s new Academy of Health & Sciences officially welcomes its first students.
Done in partnership with Columbia Basin College (CBC) and Kadlec Regional Medical Center and tying together existing and new health care-related courses, educators say the Academy will make career pathways more accessible to students.
“This is a game-changing effort to ensure the hundreds of students in our high schools who have voiced their interest in a career in health care have the opportunity to pursue that interest."
Assistant Superintendent Todd Baddley.
The Academy, which will be based at Richland High, bolsters the health-care related Career & Technical Education (CTE) classes already being offered in the district’s high schools, such as sports medicine. Students may begin enrolling in the courses this winter as they begin setting their schedules for the next school year
Along with new offerings such as biomedical science, students will have the opportunity to be certified in first aid and CPR and earn certificates toward entry-level health care roles such as those needed to be a home care aid, phlebotomist or dental assistant. Workforce experience through internships, job shadowing and mentoring also is a crucial component of the Academy’s program, with students working with health care professionals affiliated with CBC and Kadlec.
Beyond offering courses and real health care experiences, the Academy aims to fit student needs. Any high school student in the district may enroll in Academy courses while still remaining involved in their home high school through other coursework, athletics, the arts and student activities.
The Academy’s program of study is aligned to ensure students meet state graduation requirements, have the freedom to pursue other academic interests or take part in other programs such as Advanced Placement (AP), College In The High School, Running Start or Tri-Tech Skills Center.
McKenzie Lookabill, also a junior studying sports medicine at Richland High, says the Academy could really help her prepare for a variety of careers she’s considering, such as phlebotomy, paramedicine and sports medicine for rodeo participants.
“It would just give me more experience,” McKenzie says of the Academy. “The sooner you get that experience, the sooner you can apply it to things.”
Students and families wanting more information about the Academy should contact their school counselor or career center at Hanford, Richland or River’s Edge high schools.