Over her 13 years of being a teacher and working with emergency medical services, Marion High School teacher Patti Castle has kept the goal of fueling students' passion for the medical field.
“I am here to help fuel their passion for the field and better prepare them for the realities of what it means to be a nurse, EMT, or whatever they want to do,” said Castle.
Marion High School students interested in the medical sciences program have the option of taking three consecutive classes starting during their 10th-grade year. First-year students can take Foundations of Health Care to learn about the history of medicine. This course is formulated to help students understand the realities of healthcare facilities and practices while also preparing them for a possible career in medical services. While an entry-level class, Foundations of Health Care is based on hands-on learning, projects, and student-to-student teaching.
Following Foundations of Health Care, students progress into Medical Terminology. Castle says Medical Terminology classes lay the foundations for entry-level college courses while also focusing on pathology and patient care.
For the third year, seniors that have completed Anatomy and Physiology, Foundations of Healthcare, and Medical Terminology can take a one-semester class centered around bedside manner and ethical codes of conduct. Altogether, these courses heavily focus on the medical field's professionalism, the organization required in real-life medical work, and a baseline knowledge that students can carry on to further their education.
Over her years of teaching, Castle has strived to create a close bond with her students to help support them through her courses along with setting students up for success outside of high school.
“I try to have a close relationship with my students and make my classroom a safe space for them to feel valued,” said Castle. “After my students graduate, I try to keep in contact with them. Some of those students go into the medical field; some do not. But I have had students in the past tell me that the same notebook they kept in my classes provided them with the information they needed to be prepared and successful in their college classes”
At the end of the program, Castle personally certifies students in CPR, first aid, or automated external defibrillator operation with her Red Cross instructor certification. Students can also receive phlebotomy, EMT, and CNA certifications directly from Arkansas State University Mid-South through their dual enrollment program with Marion High School.
Students with full schedules are welcome to join Health Occupations Students of America (otherwise known as HOSA), an after-school organization run by Castle and Whitney Taylor. HOSA is focused on engaging students in hospitals while giving them networking experience through job shadowing. In the 2022-23 school year, HOSA state and national competitions have reopened following Covid-19. These competitions allow students to present what they have learned in a wide variety of medical fields along with leadership and teamwork.
“I want to give them the confidence that they can do these things,” said Castle. “If these students feel a draw to the medical field, I want them to understand the good and bad while teaching them how to respect themselves, be organized, and take responsibility.”
In the future, Castle said Marion High School is hoping to offer medical billing and coding classes as an addition to the health sciences program. Students interested in the MHS medical program or the ASU Mid-South dual enrollment classes can reach out to counselors or their Career Action Planning (CAP) instructor in the spring during class selection for the 2023-24 school year.
The Marion School District is an innovative and growing district committed to helping every student find their unique path to success in school and in life. With more than 150 years of experience serving families in Crittenden County, the district offers a high school, a junior high, and three award-winning magnet schools. For enrollment information, including information on school choice, visit https://www.msd3.org/ or call 870-739-5100.