Marie Antonioli’s Introduction to Health Science Careers class at Hamilton High School is filled with guest speakers and hands-on opportunities.
It is part of the school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Industrial Technical Education (ITE) programs that provide training and skill-building opportunities.
Antonioli said each student selects a career they are interested in and then invites a professional from the community employed in that field to be a guest speaker.
“Many students find that listening to speakers for 90-minutes solidifies their interest in a career while others are thankful to find out that a specific career isn’t the right one for them,” Antonioli said. “The presenters typically address what their job entails, what education/certification is required, what skills and personality traits are well suited to their profession and what they especially find particularly satisfying and difficult about their work.”
Some guest speakers elect to engage the students in hands-on activities, quizzes and PowerPoint presentations that give the students a better idea of some skills involved in that career.
On Tuesday, General Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Timothy Woods brought power tools, plastic bones and stories to share with the intrigued students.
Their questions included: what was your longest surgery (10-hours, but with a team of surgeons), what is the most common fracture (wrist), what is your favorite surgery (hand), what is your most common surgery (hip and knee replacement).
Dr. Woods emphasized the need and the ability to work with a team.
“Orthopedic surgery interacts with athletic trainers, physical therapists, nurses, x-ray technicians, operating nurses and anesthesiologists,” he said. “It is not just me, I am part of a big group.”
Dr. Woods shared that often the hardest part of surgery is operating in a full lead-lined apron and lead-lined thyroid shield.
“Some of my surgery requires, absolutely requires, the use of a very good X-ray technician and fairly sophisticated equipment,” he said.
During a hip-fracture surgery, X-ray time is limited so he must work quickly and often loses two to five pounds during a surgery.
“My clothes are just drenched with sweat,” he said. “I’m doing all the surgery from inside a lead bag. It probably weighs 10-pounds and is plastic.”
He uses the x-ray and other tools during the surgery to help him line-up the bones but said personal strength is also key.
“This is a 95% manual career,” Dr. Woods said. “If you want to be an orthopedic surgeon and you’re a young woman, get your guns — these guns (he slaps his upper arms) ready. It is heavy work. It is not a sexist statement to say this field is male-dominated but you’ve got to have strength.”
Dr. Woods outlined the road to becoming a surgeon with high school (4-years), college (4-years), medical school (4-years) and orthopedic surgeon school (5-years).
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“There were times along the road when I thought ‘this is terrible’ but you have to enjoy the journey and like what you’re doing along the way,” he said. “The reality is if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you need to go do something else. It is hard to change midstream.”
The students got to try drilling (plastic) bones and learned details about different surgeries.
HHS Athletic Trainer Bekah DeBryse also shared what she does and why she chose her career.
Speakers for fall semester include: Dr. Molly Gannon, Luke Gannon (DDS); Barb Lucas, Sierra Stringham (family counselor); Dr. Gregg Saturday, Colin Hanley (DVM/pathologist, Rocky Mountain Lab); Mike Hattlestad, Cole Anson (PT, Marcus Daly Hospital Rehab Center); Heidi Appedaile, Grace Keele (ED Nurse, MDMH); Heather Kempke, Keenan Athman (Registered Nurse, MDMH); Danielle Bell, Sofia Lewanski (Vet Tech, Valley Pet Clinic); Dr. Patrick Hanley, Hunter Vegoren (Vet, RML Scientist); Jennifer Crawford, Sebastian Woods (Imaging Tech, MDMH); Charla Fontaine, Olivia Burns (PA Dermatology, Western Montana Clinic); Dr. Dirk Beyer, Angeles Hernandez (Optometrist); James Ellis, Bridgett Ellis (Nurse Anesthetist, MDMH); Dr. April Weinberger, Meakin Vermillion (family physician, Corvallis Family Medicine); Dr. Luke Channer, Grace Bergman (general surgeon, MDMH); and Dr. Andrij Holian for Vaping Information (University of Montana Chair of Environmental Health Department).
Antonioli said that her class selects a community health education project to research and present to a target group of peers.
“This year’s project was a school-wide assembly on vaping education,” Antonioli said. “In the past, the class has educated middle school and high school students about the opioid epidemic, blood and organ donation, cancer awareness and ebola.”
Her class also has units on the history of medicine, medical abbreviations and medical math.
“Dr. Woods is a prime example of why I feel so supported as a teacher at Hamilton High School,” Antonioli said. “He made time in his busy schedule to prepare a lively and interactive lesson for my students. I knew the kids were hooked as soon as we saw him walk into the classroom carrying a huge box of model bones!”
Principal Ryan Wells said that the school’s CTE program focuses on introducing students to several relevant skill-building opportunities based on their interests and skills.
“At the most basic level these classes help prepare students for day-to-day challenges and build future life skills and at the advanced level prepares them for future career opportunities,” Wells said. “In the welding, woods and CAD (Computer Aided Design) classes, students are introduced to basic concepts in an ITE course which rotates between woods, welding and CAD for six weeks per section throughout one semester.”
At HHS, students in CAD and welding have the opportunity for dual credits through Flathead Valley Community College. Students can get certified through the American Welding Society and be prepared to weld professionally.
Wells said that several design and AutoCAD Cam classes are available for the dual enrollment partnership with FVCC.
“In AutoCAD, students learn to use 2D drawing software which is used universally in mechanical and civil engineering and architecture,” Wells said. “Advanced MasterCam emphasizes the design of 3D parts and students develop a deeper knowledge of 3D tool-pathing. In our advanced woods classes, we have worked with Habitat for Humanity in allowing students to master basic framing and roofing skills and we are hoping to build apprenticeship opportunities in this field as well.”
Other classes include 3D printing, programing and web design courses, computer science problem-solving skills, game development, 3D modeling and digital design. Students interested in entering the business field can take classes about the principals of business/marketing and financial accounting.
“Family and Consumer Sciences classes focus on cooking, sewing and parenting skills,” Wells said. “Students learn how to cook well on a budget, take care of themselves and ideally sustain themselves as adults.”
Advanced culinary arts class includes experimental cooking where students design recipes and enter a food-truck style competition.