New academy introduces students to careers

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A new educational initiative aims to introduce teenagers to a wide range of jobs in the field of health care. Health and Medicine Academy at Stadium High School began this fall. Tacoma City Council received a progress report on the program during its Nov. 27 study session.

Carla Santorno, superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools, described the effort as a career pathway for the students. MultiCare Chief Community Executive Lois Bernstein discussed how human resources staff in her organization assessed the number of jobs in the near future. Both women were part of a delegation that travelled to Cleveland to visit a medical high school. Bernstein said in that city, only the best and brightest were admitted to the school. In Tacoma, the program is open to all students.

The Health and Medicine Academy offers students a look at jobs with a range of educational requirements. Some require a high school diploma, while others require studies at college.

The program got started with a grant from Goodwill aimed at introducing Hilltop youth to health care careers. It offers lessons on subjects such as biology, allied health and technology. Out of a freshman class of 414, the initial enrollment was 96. That number was reduced by some students changing their minds, with 69 starting this fall.

Other participants in the partnership include CHI Franciscan, the University of Puget Sound, Bates Technical College and Tacoma Community College. Coordinators at Multi Care and CHI Franciscan are developing plans for field trips to clinics, job shadows and introductions to mentors.

Diane Nauer, executive director of nursing at Bates, mentioned some of the classes currently offered at her school. She noted they will move into a new building in the near future. She noted that licensed practical nurses are in great demand.

John Hickey, executive director of community engagement at UPS, noted that all the institutions of higher education in Tacoma are involved. “We are excited to be a part of this.”

Santorno said the intention is not to have the academy become a campus of its own such as School of the Arts or Science and Math Institute. She pointed out the need to look for more grants to fund the program in the future. “It does take resources to offer these opportunities to students.”

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