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Sixth Graders Explore Healthcare

student practicing CPRsixth graders wearing medical glovesstudent getting fingers wrapped


Through a partnership with Valley Health, sixth graders at Daniel Morgan Intermediate School had the opportunity to learn about a broad range of health professions last week. Because Handley High School students helped facilitate hands-on activities for the middle schoolers, the event enhanced career exploration for students on many levels. 

Katie Lockhart, Career and Technical Education Coordinator at Winchester Public Schools, believes events like the Health Expo help students expand their knowledge about healthcare careers. “Students usually have a narrow focus and think about doctors and nurses, but by doing this, they get many examples of careers in the healthcare industry that they wouldn’t otherwise learn about,” she said. “There is huge demand in some of these other areas, and many places provide certification programs.” 

During the Health Expo, 20 stations were set up to expose students to a variety of careers in healthcare and to peak their interest in learning more. Stations included an anatomy table where students held real pig hearts and sheep eyes, an area to learn basic CPR skills, and a handwashing station that showed students germs that remained after washing. 

Handley Senior Jailynn Rivera helped facilitate a station that allowed students to practice feeding a patient by feeding each other. “The sixth graders didn’t really see the purpose of feeding each other at first, but I told them that my patients at Westminster Canterbury are sometimes incapable of feeding themselves. This is how they get nutrition.” Jailynn is currently doing a clinical experience at Westminster Canterbury for one of her classes and plans to attend Shenandoah University in the fall and ultimately become a Physician Assistant. 

The success of the Health Expo shows the importance of community partnerships in career exploration. Heather Wilson, Program Manager for Professional Development at Valley Health, was an active collaborator for the preparation, coordination, and securing of volunteer health professionals.  Many professions were represented, including radiology, dietetics, and physical and occupational therapy. Wilson also contributed ready-made activities and materials for each station, allowing 36 students from the Health Sciences Academy at the Emil and Grace Shihadeh Innovation Center to facilitate the activities using the skills they have learned in their classes. 

Crystal Washington teaches the Career Explorations class at Daniel Morgan that led to students participating in the Health Expo. She said this event helps students get more specific ideas about their aspirations and explore through hands-on activities. “They visited a pharmaceutical table where they sorted candy to mimic sorting medications, they felt what an actual vein feels like,” she said. “It brought the curriculum to life.” The best part for Ms. Washington, though, was seeing her former students come back. “It was so amazing to see students that I taught come back and teach students I have currently. That was amazing for me. That was my why.”