Successful externships? Check. 90% exam pass rates? Check. Quality job placements? Check. But what sets these health care career tech programs apart? Keeping up with student progress using a comprehensive set of tools.
While health science may be the subject Rená Kuehler is teaching to high school students in Amarillo, Texas, it’s the self-sufficiency, stability and humility she sees develop in her students over time that are the real fruits of her labor.
“They gain confidence, they walk taller, they start to become determined and focused professionals,” says Kuehler.
Kuehler, a registered nurse with over 30 years of clinical and teaching experience, helps students prepare for careers in medical assisting and EKG testing at the Amarillo Area Center for Advanced Learning (AACAL).
The variety of subjects and programs at AACAL are like those you might see in any other career tech program in Texas. However, the geography is much different.
Amarillo is the largest population center for the famously remote and vast Texas Panhandle. Through its Gateway distance-learning program, AACAL serves students in the Amarillo area as well as rural high schools in a four-county area that covers more than 2,000 square miles.
Well-designed online resources and remote learning tools are not minor amenities; they are mission-critical necessities for the families and students that rely on AACAL.
“Our remote high schools – and our students – are spread out across a large area, so AACAL and our health science programs are built for distance learning,” says Kuehler. “All students have iPads, our classrooms have webcams for online classes, and analytics – Learning Insights – from NHA help us track performance whether the student attends class in-person or online.”
AACAL ensures that its curriculum is aligned with the medical assistant (CCMA), EKG Technician (CET), and Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A) certification exams from NHA. Additionally, AACAL integrates NHA’s preparation tools into its health science program.
“NHA certification preparation materials, in my opinion, are more engaging for students since they use a mix of video and interactive practice drills to help students focus on key concepts,” says Kuehler. “NHA study guides are some of the best I’ve seen for online teaching and distance learning.”
The Amarillo school district also has many ESL (English-as-a-Second-Language) students who may not have strong English-speaking skills and who need clarification on instructions or materials. Kuehler says NHA’s customer service teams do a great job answering these questions, responding to special requests, and onboarding new certification candidates.
“The tech-friendly certification tools help us meet our students where they are,” says Kuehler. “NHA is flexible and creative, so they fit our unique learning environment well.”
High Standards and High Expectations in Alabama
Heather Pettit, a registered nurse and instructor at Arab High School (AHS) in Arab, Alabama, says that her students in the Advanced Health Sciences program should expect to be challenged. The program, just like a full-time career, is demanding but rewarding.
In her role as taskmaster and teacher, Pettit helps students navigate AHS’s patient care technician and medical assistant programs, utilizing NHA’s learning tools and certifications. When the AHS patient care tech program was launched three years ago, NHA was instrumental in its design.
“NHA provided us with everything we needed to design a well-rounded program, from best practices and study
Pettit also likes the extra tools available for remediation. NHA’s Focused Review© alerts instructors and directs students to content they still need to work on. “If someone isn’t keeping up, we know about it quickly and can act quickly, being that 100% of our students are using these tools,” says Pettit.
She also makes sure that medical assistant externships are challenging, but also a good fit for the student based on future goals. Students at AHS have many externship options available: hospitals, dental offices, telemetry offices, veterinary offices and family practice offices.
Pettit puts a strong emphasis on externship preparation and success. She advises students to dress professionally, always be on time, and listen carefully to instructions.
“Patient care and safety are our top concerns,” says Pettit. “Whatever we learn in the classroom needs to be applied with precision and compassion when we’re dealing with patients.”
NHA resources are paying off: pass rates on the certification exams at Arab High School are currently at 90 percent.
“Our students win and our communities win with the CPCT/A certification from NHA,” says Pettit. “Our students receive the recognition and confidence they need for college and beyond, and our community gets better-trained healthcare professionals that take better care of patients, improve healthcare quality, and lower the overall cost of care.”