LHS & NHCL tie the educational knot

31 Jan 2011 | Cpl. Joanthan G. Wright

Three years after the founding of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in 1941, Lejeune High School was established with its first graduating class leaving the following year. Subsequently, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune was commissioned in 1943 with a staff of 551 officers, nurses, corpsmen and civilians, providing medical treatment to both active-duty service members and civilian dependents alike.

However, for the last 65 years, the two prominent establishments have not shared in any sort of educational program in which LHS students interested in pursuing a career in health care could shadow various departments in NHCL to grasp a better understanding of their interests – until now.

Through the initiative of two LHS faculty members, a two-year specialty class designed for students to fully grasp the ins and outs of any health care profession sought after graduation, the Health Sciences Program, was born.

“Students interested in health care had no extra-curricular opportunities to learn their desired trade,” said Angela Washington, Health Sciences Program teacher at LHS. “However, that changed last year when the opportunity to be able to explore various health care careers was opened to the student body.”

Eric Steimel, principal of LHS, recognized the need and importance of having a health sciences program added to the high school curriculum, especially since many of the students’ parents are health care providers. When the HSP was created, it became the first stateside Department of Defense school with such a program and bridging the gap between LHS and NHCL.

“We have found that 25 percent of all students in (LHS) have an interest in getting into a medical-related career while only seven percent aim for a technology-oriented career,” said Steimel. “Also, there is a direct educational benefit outside the workplace when in a health care profession. It’s a skill you can use anywhere when needed.”

The first HSP class commenced with the start of the 2010 school year with 150 students enrolled. The two-year program is divided into Health Sciences I and II, where the first year teaches the various types of health care professions and areas of study while the second year puts the students in more hands-on roles and learn how to interact and care for patients.

“At the end of their second year, the students will also become (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certified as well as know how to operate an automatic external defibrillator,” said Washington. “They also have the opportunity to take the nurse aid exam, where if they pass they become Nurse Aid Ones for employment within the state of North Carolina.”

For a student to take the Nurse Aid program outside of the high school, they would have to go to Coastal Carolina Community College for an 18-week period at the cost of $600. After graduation, a Nurse Aid fresh out of school with no prior experience pays a starting rate of $9.75 when employed.

“Not only do they greatly benefit themselves with this knowledge, they also contribute to everyone around them,” said Washington. “These skills are never antiquiated, and they speak volumes of what they can do for yourself, your family or anyone who may need them.”

A visionary program coming to one of the leading figureheads of DoD schools, the HSP of LHS not only connects the present to the future, but brings together all participating students under a single banner of medical readiness.