Pioneer High School teacher Don Bland is blazing an information management trail as Nevada’s high schools received grants to expand Career and Technical Education programs to ensure college and career readiness by graduation.
Bland said he looked at the health sciences curriculum available to his students and felt something was missing. Through the Carson City School District’s CTE initiative, students can choose career track electives in emergency medical services, sports medicine, pharmacy technician and forensics. Bland said he wanted students at Pioneer, the district’s alternative and adult education high school, to have an opportunity to learn marketable skills and be able to work in a rewarding career right out of high school.
“Health information management is going to be a huge opportunity for employment moving forward,” he said. “As more and more doctors’ offices turn to electronic health records due to the Affordable Care Act, information management will be in major demand.”
Bland developed the curriculum through interviews with local doctors and implemented industry standard software training into the program. Students learn basics in anatomy, physiology, cellular biology and human body systems, as well as training in front office procedures, communications, Microsoft Office and other software, and how to build a computer network.
“Students are being trained on eClinicalWorks software which is used by many physicians throughout Nevada, including the Carson Medical Group and other physicians’ offices that work with the Carson Tahoe Health system,” Bland said. “Students who have completed heath information management courses in high school can go right into a career, and it will lend itself to Western Nevada College’s health studies programs as well.”
Bland’s curriculum is the first of its kind in the state, and is the pilot program for the state department of education’s Office of Career Readiness in health sciences and public safety. Randi Hunewill, education program supervisor for the department of education, said she is excited for students to be involved with Bland’s program.
“Health Science is in high demand, not only in Nevada, but nationally,” Hunewill said. “Pioneer High School’s program teaches students real jobs skills as well as how to be respectful, maintain confidentiality, and multitask while presenting themselves and communicating in a professional manner.”
Hunewill said CTE programs are teaching students in health science and other industries targeted by Gov. Sandoval’s CTE initiative, including professions in agriculture and natural resources management, business and marketing, hospitality and tourism, information and media technologies, and skilled and technical sciences, at industry levels. Many students will test for and hold national certifications in their chosen field upon graduating from high school.
“CTE is hands-on education that works,” she said. “Many of the high school CTE programs are articulated at a community college level and students can graduate from high school with six to 15 college credits that they did not have to pay for.”
For Bland’s students, many of whom are living in transitional housing between permanent homes, raising children or working to help support their families, graduating with a marketable skill will help students break the cycle.
“When you give a student a set of scrubs, or a stethoscope, it tells them they mean something,” Hunewill said. “Through CTE, we are seeing populations of students with different learning styles stepping up. The curriculum is not easy, but CTE students graduate at higher rates, over 85 percent, than non-CTE students.”