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June 13, 2021

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Hands-on instruction at HeLa High School

Health-bioscience school's students get real-world lessons

By , Columbian Education Reporter
Published:
4 Photos
Nursing students Imrin Uppal, from left, Olivia Schmitz and Averie Henry practice monitoring and responding to patients in the state-of-the-art nursing station at Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School in Vancouver on Thursday.
Nursing students Imrin Uppal, from left, Olivia Schmitz and Averie Henry practice monitoring and responding to patients in the state-of-the-art nursing station at Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School in Vancouver on Thursday. The training station includes SimMan, which teachers can program with a multitude of medical scenarios. Photo Gallery

Visit the school’s website.

Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School,

9105 N.E. Ninth St., Vancouver

o Nursing/patient services: The care and well-being of the patient.

o Pharmacy: The study of medicine and interaction with the human body. Students will study advanced chemistry, medicinal chemistry, advanced physiology with options to study immunology, microbiology and molecular biology.

o Biomedical engineering: Uses traditional engineering skills to analyze and solve problems in medicine. Students will study biomechanics, cellular and molecular biology and advanced physiology.

o Biotechnology: Applies knowledge of cells, DNA and protein to solve complex human problems. Students will study organic chemistry, cellular and molecular biology and applied genetics.

o Biomedical informatics: Uses computer applications to manage medical data. Students will study computer science, computer programming and data analysis.

Visit the school's website.

While nursing student Chelsea Smith was taking her patient’s blood pressure, she asked him, “Do you have any pain today?”

“I don’t feel well,” replied Alex, the 30-year-old man lying in the hospital bed.

“What seems to be the problem?” asked Chelsea.

“I’m feeling very dizzy,” he answered.

“How dizzy are you? When did the dizziness start?” she asked.

First, Alex moaned loudly. Then he was silent.

Chelsea glanced up at the monitor. His blood pressure had plummeted from 80 to 49.

“His pulse is going down, so I will need you to get the AED,” Chelsea calmly told a second student.

Lana Zakharov wheeled a crash cart with the automated external defibrillator into the hospital room.

“He stopped breathing. I’m starting CPR,” Chelsea said.

While Chelsea did the first set of 30 chest compressions, Lana slipped an ambu-bag over the patient’s mouth and nose and began squeezing it to deliver oxygen.

The students took turns delivering chest compressions to avoid becoming too tired.

A third student, Victor Cosovan, unpacked the AED and attached the pads to the patient’s chest.

The AED’s voice coached him through the process: “Don’t touch patient. Shock advised.”

All three students stepped back. Victor pushed the button on the AED.

Seconds later, the patient began moaning.

Although the scenario was realistic, it wasn’t real.

The patient, Alex, is not a real man. He is SimMan Essential, a realistic, full-body, adult, wireless patient simulator. SimMan is programmable for various situations to help health care students learn core skills of airway, breathing, cardiac and circulation management.

The training AED is like a real AED in every way but one. It does not provide an electric shock to revive patients.

The 17-year-old students are juniors in the nursing patient service class at Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School, part of Evergreen Public Schools. It’s the only such school in the state and among only a handful of similar schools nationwide.

Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School,

9105 N.E. Ninth St., Vancouver

o Nursing/patient services: The care and well-being of the patient.

o Pharmacy: The study of medicine and interaction with the human body. Students will study advanced chemistry, medicinal chemistry, advanced physiology with options to study immunology, microbiology and molecular biology.

o Biomedical engineering: Uses traditional engineering skills to analyze and solve problems in medicine. Students will study biomechanics, cellular and molecular biology and advanced physiology.

o Biotechnology: Applies knowledge of cells, DNA and protein to solve complex human problems. Students will study organic chemistry, cellular and molecular biology and applied genetics.

o Biomedical informatics: Uses computer applications to manage medical data. Students will study computer science, computer programming and data analysis.

“Well done,” said Channtel Miller, the school’s nursing instructor and a registered nurse.

She led the students to a classroom where the rest of the students had watched on a large monitor. Miller and her co-teacher, April Coss, clinical simulation supervisor, reviewed how well the students had performed their duties.

The students who had participated weighed in: When Victor was doing CPR, both the AED and his hands slipped.

Miller and Coss offered suggestions for improvement. Although human skin can get sweaty, their hands won’t slip as much on a real person. Victor had mistakenly applied the AED pads to the hospital gown rather than to the patient’s bare chest.

“After you get the hang of it and practice again and again, it gets easier,” said Coss, who still works some shifts in the emergency room at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, adjacent to the school.

Then the entire class watched the video together.

“Not every patient is going to code the same way,” Miller said. “There is not one cookie-cutter way to save someone’s life. In the hospital, we practice different scenarios all the time.”

The entire class had recently become certified in CPR. Next year, as seniors, the students will have opportunities for internships and job shadows, not only at nearby PeaceHealth, but also at other medical facilities in Vancouver, said Principal Julie Tumelty.

Nicknamed HeLa High, the school opened in fall 2013. It is immediately north of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. Students spend their entire day at HeLa.

Students apply in the fall a year before they expect to begin the program. Preference is given to students who live in Evergreen Public Schools. They are selected by a lottery system and are equally divided among the district’s high schools. There is no minimum grade point average nor do students have to demonstrate an interest in health or medical careers, although many students are interested in pursuing health and medicine.

That’s certainly true of the three students who revived SimMan. Chelsea wants to pursue pediatrics. Victor wants to be a surgeon. Lana wants to specialize in cardiothoracic surgery.

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