Hands-on health

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Kanesha Battle popped a thermometer in Madison Smith's mouth and, after what seemed like forever, got the beep she was waiting for.

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A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School student Kanesha Battle, 17, takes a temperature reading for Madison Smith, 8, in the pediatric wing at Medical College of Georgia. MCG allows the teenagers to participate in rotations where they can shadow health care workers and learn how to perform some medical duties.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School student Kanesha Battle, 17, takes a temperature reading for Madison Smith, 8, in the pediatric wing at Medical College of Georgia. MCG allows the teenagers to participate in rotations where they can shadow health care workers and learn how to perform some medical duties.

"Ninety-eight" she called to Ashley Felts, who was standing next to Madison's chart in the pediatric clinic at Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics.

Instead of just hearing about what health care workers do, the two seniors at A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School are getting hands-on experience.

The students are among 46 at A.R. Johnson who are rotating through various clinics and labs at MCG to shadow health care workers and do routine assignments. As part of a newly expanded agreement, MCG faculty will present lectures at the high school. The medical students have also expressed an interest in coming to the school to mentor or tutor, said Julie Kenny, the A.R. Johnson's health sciences coordinator.

"Professors are coming over and talking, the students are getting involved. It just seems like there's much more involvement all the way around, no matter what level," she said.

In the past, A.R. Johnson students had a greater interaction with MCG but "somewhere along the line it faded a little bit," said Principal Deborah Walker, who has taught at the school for 19 years. "Now we're trying to strengthen it again to give our students more opportunities to participate."

It is valuable for students to work with the up-to-date equipment the schools don't have and see health care workers in action, Mrs. Walker said.

"The books can give you a little information but until you can work with it firsthand or see it firsthand, that knowledge is just book knowledge," she said.

It can show them the wide variety of health care jobs available, said Denise Kornegay, director of the Georgia Statewide Area Health Education Centers Network, which is a partner in the program.

"So many of them think either you're a doctor or a nurse or a dentist. And they have no idea that there is this huge array of professions out there," she said.

The students will get some real benefit from it - the MCG Center for Operational Medicine, for instance, is going to give them bioterrorism disaster response training that will make the students certified responders, Ms. Kornegay said.

Also, they will learn some practical lessons of health care.

"It shows us how to actually work with the patients whereas, if you were just in a classroom learning theory, you wouldn't really know how to interact with the patients," said A.R. Johnson Senior Nathan Morris.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com


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