In April, Jamestown students learned about the Health Professional facilities at the Historic Triangle campus.
Many area high school students are familiar with Thomas Nelson’s nursing and dental hygiene programs. Michelle Alexander, an assistant professor for Health, Physical Education and Wellness, wants them to know the College offers much more in the world of healthcare. A chance encounter at a high school orientation fair is helping her do just that.
In April, more than two dozen students, all juniors and seniors, from Jamestown High School visited Thomas Nelson’s Historic Triangle campus for a 90-minute tour of the Health Professions facilities.
“They were so excited and they really enjoyed it,” Alexander said. “They kept asking questions. We may schedule more time for them next time.”
Things went so well that Alexander is hoping for another tour to coincide with a big health fair celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Historic Triangle campus. That probably will be in November.
High school students in Williamsburg-James City County, Alexander explained, have to take at least one Career and Technical Education (CTE) course in order to graduate. A new biomedical science course at Jamestown can fill that requirement, and Alexander ran into John Leone, who teaches that class, when she was attending the school’s orientation with her daughter. They struck up a conversation.
“I said, ‘You should bring your students over,’” Alexander said.
She thought those students would be a good fit for what Thomas Nelson has to offer.
“If you have students who are taking biomedical sciences, they might be interested in the health science field,” she said. “We thought it would be a great opportunity for them to come here and learn more about our programs.”
The students were given tours of the dental hygiene and nursing clinics, the EMS lab, where an ambulance bay is set up, and a simulated home with a living room, bathroom and bedrooms.
“I think most of them had no idea what we actually had here, as far as the simulation goes and all the labs and high-tech equipment that we have,” Alexander said. “I think they were all caught off-guard by that.”
Leone, who also teaches honors and general biology at Jamestown, said his students were impressed.
“My students thought it was extremely interesting and helped them better understand the educational requirements and time commitment required of them if they are to continue being interested in a future in the health or medical field,” he said.
And that’s one of the reasons Alexander wants to do this again, but with more than just Jamestown students.
“I’d like to expand it and get more students out here,” she said.
She noted with changes in requirements for the advanced diploma in high schools, many students could be done with their work by the end of their junior year.
“So the goal is to try to encourage them to come here and take classes,” she said.
If Alexander’s vision of the November health fair comes to light, high school students would go on a tour of the Thomas Nelson facilities and then have the opportunity to speak with representatives of the programs that draw their interest. Alexander said at the April tour, the students were able to do that, but on a smaller scale.
“A lot of those students (at the April tour) are college-bound and may be looking at bachelor’s degrees, so we wanted to make sure they knew about the associate of science and health science as well,” Alexander said.
Leone said the tour showed students they have options.
“It made most of my students more interested in a health or medical career, while redirecting others to something within the field or beyond that is a bit more to their liking.
“Therefore, it served the purpose I envisioned for our visit.”
In the fall, he hopes to make more visits with more of his students, which would serve Alexander’s purpose just fine, too.