Mrs. Collins and Mrs. Dewberry, the instructors of Mandarin High School’s Medical Academy, bring an industry focus to their classrooms. Since the program began in 2008, students have seen how their classroom instruction translates into the real world. In 2022, the Health Sciences Academy obtained Master Academy Status following an intensive CTE Academy Accreditation review process. A Master Academy is the highest standard obtained in this DCPS Accountability and Assessment Process.
In a classroom equipped with four hospital beds, equipment, technology, and the requisite mannequins, Collins and Dewberry bring synergy and realism to their health science program, a co-hort model extending from freshman through senior year.
Students begin the Academy as freshmen and continue with the same co-hort through their senior year. As such, the group feels more like an extended family. This “family” is supported by regional businesses and education partners such as Baptist South, River Garden, St. Vincent’s, Keiser University, Florida State College at Jacksonville, University of North Florida, and Jersey College. They have impacted the program through their work on the Academy Advisory Board, providing clinical sites and donating equipment.
As Mrs. Collins is an RN and Mrs. Dewberry an EMT, they are constantly supplementing their instruction with real world experience from industry. RN’s and EMT’s approach their work very differently, as the scenario determines the response. Thus, students get a perspective from each teacher on how to respond to 12 patients needing continual care instead of 1 person needing emergency care.
As freshmen, students learn health science foundations, communication, and teamwork. Students are put into working groups selected by their teacher. “Students don’t get to pick their colleagues or their patients in the real world,” said Collins.
Each year builds on the prior year. Freshmen and sophomores will learn both soft and practical skills such as communication, First Aid/CPR, sterile technique, and vital signs. As juniors, students take Anatomy and Physiology with additional focus on diseases, treatments, prognoses, and careers. The senior courses prepare students for their certification tests.
Part of this preparation includes 16 clinical hours in a medical facility and completing lab hours on campus. When students are at Baptist South, they will be exposed to the Emergency Room, Radiology, and Cath Labs. Students have even been in surgery and post-surgery settings. There they practice the skills they have learned while shadowing professionals. When students say, “’I can read these charts’, they have moment of clarity and accomplishment” according to Dewberry.
Students learn about the multitude of opportunities in biomedicine that exist in Jacksonville. Participating in a virtual classroom with Brooks Rehabilitation allowed students to see how lasers, sensors and plates monitored an athlete jumping and generated data to best evaluate a knee injury. Students have also visited Medtronic to see the medical equipment produced.
Students leave the program with two certifications: CMAA and EKG Technician. The CMAA is an allied health credential which equips students for front office, scheduling, greeting patients and handling payments. Students must complete 10 live EKGs before they can sit for the exam.
Mandarin students participate in HOSA—Future Health Professionals, an extra-curricular activity aligned to national standards. HOSA teaches leadership through competition and community service. Mandarin HOSA is student run and consistently places in regional and state competitions. Students are now looking to compete globally.
Students succeed in the workforce following graduation. For example, one Mandarin graduate is now a lab assistant at Baptist’s downtown campus; several are nurses at Baptist locations. Another former student is mentoring a currently enrolled student. Many are pursuing their studies to be nurse practitioners and physical therapists. The value of this program extends beyond high school. Student Mandy Nguyen said, “The Medical Academy has given me the opportunity to gain and expand my knowledge in health care. This will set me up for success towards future education and careers.”