Simulation gives students glimpse into health care careers

Canton High School students receive immersive experience on campus

High school girls with face masks watch a nurse gesture to a manikin simulating an ambulance patient.

A middle-aged man gets into a car crash. He wasn’t wearing his seat belt, the car rolled several times, and he was ejected from the vehicle. He has several internal injuries and is taken to Canton, South Dakota, in an ambulance. He arrives at Canton High School where a group of students is waiting for him.

This is the scenario high school students were given as they started a simulation, teaching them how health care workers care for patients. Usually, Sanford Health staff members are trained in the simulation truck. But this was the first time it was used for a learning experience for students.

“Our goal today is to just get students to understand what a career looks like in health care to see if it’s a right fit for them,” said Linda Heerde. She is the director for ASPIRE by Sanford.

Finding your passion

ASPIRE stands for Attaining and Supporting Professional growth by Imagining possibilities, Realigning career goals and Exploring opportunities.

Discover health careers: ASPIRE educational programs

ASPIRE has certified career coaches who work with employees and students in post-secondary schools sponsored by Sanford to work on career development. Another group of coaches under ASPIRE creates experiences for kids in K-12. They reached more than 39,000 kids in the 2020-2021 school year.

“Particularly for this event, it’s our K-12 team that’s creating an experience for students to get them exposed to health care careers and be able to experience a day in the life of what someone maybe looks like in working in one of our health care careers,” said Heerde.

There were two groups of about 10 high school students who had an interest in participating in the simulation in Canton. Many of those students are part of the Canton HOSA chapter, which is a national organization that stands for Health Occupations Students of America.

“We just hope that it just confirms their passion and desire to go into a health care career field and actually see themselves working in one of our facilities someday,” said Heerde.

Immersive experience for students

Morgan Carlon, a junior at Canton High School, has been interested in going into the health care field for a few years. She’s participated in a simulation before, but the one that Sanford brought to her school was different.

“This one was really interesting because it showed the emergency response side of things, and I never really seen or experienced that before,” said Carlon.

The Canton-Inwood ambulance team walked students through what they do when they arrive on scene after getting called. The patient, which was actually a manikin, was put on the gurney while a paramedic and EMT with Sanford explained what happens in the back of an ambulance and what tools are available to them. The ambulance was parked outside of the front entrance of the high school along with the simulation truck.

The patient was then transported to the ER in the simulation truck. It’s set up just like an emergency room in a Sanford hospital. A registered nurse, step-by-step, walked them through the medical thinking process, checking vitals and eventually finding a collapsed lung in the patient.

“When we learned about the lungs collapsing and how they listen for that, I thought that was an interesting thing. It kind of opened up my eyes to how much we depend on our lungs and our breathing and how important stabilizing the breathing and the circulation of people are,” said Carlon.

This had so much of an impact on this high school junior that it’s helping her choose what career path she wants to follow.

“I kind of think after today, I decided either go into cardiology or pulmonology,” she said.

Importance of recruiting

This is exactly what Scott Larson, Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center CEO, envisioned when he thought about trying to get more kids interested in choosing health care as a career path.

“Because with the shortages we have in a lot of our departments, we feel that we need to try to grow our own and get kids interested in health care at a young age,” said Larson.

That’s when Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center, Canton High School, Sanford ASPIRE K-12 programs and the Sanford Simulation team came together for this Canton C-Hawks See Healthcare event. Larson felt it was important to make students aware of the variety of opportunities available in health care.

“But in this day and age with the technology and stuff and where medicine is going, there’s so many opportunities that kids just don’t know,” he said.

To bridge that gap, Sanford brought the learning opportunities to the students, rather than making them travel. Because just as we know how important getting care close to home is, so is trying to bring future opportunities to the next generation.

“Rural health is in desperate need of health care workers, not just Canton. Rural health is in my opinion what drives a lot of patients to our bigger tertiary hospitals too, so we’re a very important role in health care,” said Larson.

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Posted In Canton-Inwood, Community, Emergency Medicine, Rural Health

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