Observation 101

Students learn by watching practices of local hospital

By Pamela Bond

Victoria Advocate

June 9, 2008

For some students at Memorial High School, an average school day involves observing heart surgery or examining X-rays for osteoporosis.

Students in the health science technology II class spend their time not just reading textbooks and taking tests, but also participating in clinical rotations at local hospitals and other medical offices.

During the school year, the students will spend 24 days at Citizens Medical Center, 12 at DeTar Hospital Navarro, 10 at DeTar’s north campus and six specialty rotations at a place of the student’s choice, such as a dentist, optometrist or physical therapist’s office. Book work and classroom instruction prepares the students for what they learn in the field.

At the hospitals, the students observe doctors, nurses and technicians in different areas such as surgery, radiology and the emergency room.

The purpose of the course is to give students interested in the medical field a chance to observe medical practices in real life so they might have a better idea of what they would like to do, said Melanie Allen, a health science technology teacher.

“They see a lot,” Allen said. “Some of them have seen death. I tell them to use their best judgment. If you can handle it, if you’re comfortable, it’s fine.”

Allen, who is also a psychiatric nurse at Citizens Medical Center, found her interest in the field while taking the same class in high school. She said she tries to get the students to think of small class as a family so no one is left out.

“I was interested in biology and the medical field, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said junior Sarah Parkinson. “I liked watching endoscopy and surgery, that was fun. We get to see the good and the bad.”

Senior Stephen Bess, who wants to become an obstetrician, said he signed up for the class as soon as possible once he found out that he would get to observe in the hospitals.

“The best thing was I wanted to see a birth, and we did that on my third rotation,” Bess said. “I really enjoyed that. I said it felt like home. I just walked in and felt like I had seen it before. I liked the environment, and I love kids.”