Pens and medical charts in hand, students from HISD’s Jones Futures Academy listened intently as Alex diligently answered their medical intake questions, each of them nodding as they quickly jotted down notes to determine the best treatment plan for the new patient.
Alex is not a human patient; he is an interactive mannequin and a valuable teaching tool inside the school’s state-of-the-art simulated learning center, which provides students real-life training in different medical scenarios.
“It is so cool how life-like it is; the blood is so life-like,” senior Mary Shorungbe said. “The patient’s hands are so similar to human hands, the veins are real, the pulse is real. It is so realistic.”
Mary spent the first day of her last year of high school taking HISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan from room to room in the clinic during her districtwide first-day-of-school tour. Implemented over three years ago, the medical clinic setting features a patient intake room, an EKG room, a phlebotomy room, a surgical skills lab and other simulated clinical environments.
The hands-on clinic is used to support classroom instruction for Jones students on a health-science pathway. In one room, the interim superintendent looked on as a student received one-on-one CPR training using a professional CPR mannequin. Last year, 47 of the school’s 58 sophomores became CPR certified.
“I am excited that we offer this program to HISD students at no cost,” Lathan said. “It is an opportunity for them to graduate as certified healthcare professionals, and I am thrilled this wonderful opportunity is available.”
While at Jones, students can obtain healthcare certifications as EKG Technicians, Phlebotomy Technicians, and Certified Clinical Medical Assistants. Students utilize the simulated learning center to practice their skills before sitting for a certification test. Jones boasts more students with Phlebotomy certifications than any other school in the district.
“The certification tests are not just multiple choice, they also have a skills component section,” Jones Principal Nirmol Lim said. “The students are required to show they have obtained the skills necessary to work directly with a patient.”
When Mary arrived at Jones as a freshman in 2016, she had no idea that three years later, as she began her senior year, she would be preparing to sit for her Phlebotomy certification test and planning for a future career in medicine.
“The coolest thing about this facility is there’s always an opportunity,” she said. “I want to be a pediatrician, and, because of this school, I know what steps to take to get there.”