LSH HS students complete High STEP Program

January 29, 2014

Le Sueur News Herald

Health care program gives Le Sueur-Henderson seniors head start on career
By CJ SIEWERT • Southernminn

The desire to help others came at a young age for Le Sueur-Henderson senior Jonathan Baer. He spent many hours in a hospital when his mother was diagnosed with cancer.

“Ever since I was younger I always knew I wanted to do something with people,” said Baer. “When my mom got sick and passed away of cancer I was already in the hospital setting and it was comfortable. Ever since then I’ve always wanted to help people in some way.”

Baer’s motivation to make a career out of his interest in helping others got an added boost during the first semester this year at school thanks to a new program.

Baer, Katharine Chadwick and Laura Hoppe became the first LS-H students to participate in High-STEP at Minnesota Valley Health Center in Le Sueur, a program which prepares students for health science career opportunities.

The program is offered through the South Central Service Cooperative in North Mankato. It has been offered for four years at St. Peter High School and six other school districts. Increased interest from area students allowed the program to expand to MVHC.

“Three students applied and it worked better for them to come in the afternoon so we scheduled them to come [to MVHC] and have their hands-on medical experience here,” said Amanda Bell, the program’s coordinator. “The students receive their curriculum online and they come to MVHC for supplemental activities.”

Every Tuesday and Thursday from 2-3 p.m., the three LS-H seniors would go to MVHC for their hands-on training. Enrolling in the program made perfect sense for the students, given their interest in pursuing careers in the medical field.

Positive reviews from students who enrolled in the program at St. Peter High School sparked Chadwick’s interest.

“I applied because I really knew I wanted to be in health care,” she said. “I heard from kids that took it last year that you get to know just about everything. And I thought that would be cool to learn more about health care to direct me toward what I want to do. It’s been very fun.”

Hoppe wasn’t sure on what she wanted to pursue in a career, but the High-STEP program has pointed her in what she now says is the right direction.

“I applied because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at the end of last school year,” Hoppe said. “I took a bunch of classes on what I might want to do and now I’ve decided I want to go into health care because of this class.”

Since the second week of school, the three seniors have been able to experience the day-to-day operations at a hospital as well as the many different practices the facility uses.

“We learned a lot about protecting peoples’ information and keeping their records,” Chadwick said. “You have to be very careful about what you say and what you can’t say. And what you see you don’t really talk about either.”

Learning about illnesses and ailments of the patients gave the students knowledge of how to diagnose and treat them. Not only did the students get to learn about some of the ailments the patients are dealing with, but also they got to experience them first-hand.

“We wore these aging suits that limited our abilities and it was really eye-opening to see how much you do lose in the later years of your life,” Baer said. “That’s what really stuck out to me.”

Hoppe agreed that many of the activities they went through were eye-opening and something she had never experienced.

“I learned a lot about nursing,” Hoppe said. “We got to see acupuncture, which I had never seen before.”

Now that the hands-on program at MVHC is complete, the students will take an anatomy and physiology course throughout the second semester. The experience has given the students a head start on what to expect in their desired career field, and it’s also given them a head start on college credits.

Bell said the students can take an evaluation at the end of the school year and there are a lot of colleges and universities that would accept the course as prior learning to get college credit. Their second semester course is worth four credits through South Central College in North Mankato.

“I just loved being here,” Chadwick said. “It was only an hour twice a week and I just wanted to stay longer. I know for sure this is what I want to do. This has made me so excited for college and I just want to be there and help people.”

Baer agreed, saying, “It provoked a desire to work in an environment like this. The most rewarding thing is just being able to help people and see the little things like asking a resident how their day is going just puts a smile back on their face. The little things can make such a huge difference in someone’s life.”

Next year, Bell hopes to increase the program’s participation at MVHC.

“I think it was great to start with a group of three to kind of get an introduction with a small group to see how things go,” she said. “I think next year we would really look to grow the group to about 10.”

Reach reporter CJ Siewert at 507-931-8576 or follow him on Twitter @LNHcj

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