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Class gives Sabin-Schellenberg students real-life medical experience, path to internships

Not every high school student would get a kick out of seeing a catheter being put in or learning how to move a patient from a hospital bed into a wheelchair. But the 44 graduates who recently completed the Health Science Level 2 class at Sabin-Schellenberg love the opportunity to get real-life experiences in the medical field.

PHOTO BY SETH GORDON - Hailey Pasco, left, and Arielle Digman prepare to make a hospital bed using the special technique they learned in Health Science Level 2. Both will study nursing in the fall. In fact, they appreciate the experience so much that a dozen of them have summer jobs through the Marquis Companies in the metro area.

"Marquis appreciates their eagerness to learn, their energetic, positive attitudes and, above all else, how they always treat our residents with dignity and respect. It's clear the students are dedicated to being successful in the program," said Katy Zahrte, talent services manager, Marquis Companies.

The young people "provide high-quality, direct care to Marquis residents who are receiving post-acute rehab or long-term care at one of 13 facilities in the Portland metro area," she said.

As part of their jobs, they perform a wide variety of tasks, from taking vital signs to assisting residents with their activities of daily living, Zahrte added.

Health Sciences Level 2 instructors Jeanie Wilson and Lyn Gray know the program inside and out because both women completed the course as students — Wilson in 1977 and Gray in 1987. In addition, they replaced the instructors who taught them.

"We've come full circle," Wilson said.

PHOTO BY SETH GORDON - Alena Decoito, left, and Sandra Srey demonstrate how to use a Hoyer Lift to transfer a patient from a hospital bed to a chair. Students who will be seniors attending high schools in the North Clackamas School District must apply to get into Health Sciences Level 2 and must have taken other health sciences classes as prerequisites for the advanced course.

"It's a big deal to get into the class," Wilson said, further noting that all 44 students finished the course and all have been accepted into colleges in the fall.

And, she noted, all the students understand that this class requires more than just a minimum of homework and classroom work. In fact, students usually amass about an extra 200 hours, once all the online classwork and internship time is added together.

They also need to learn the medical terminology specific to each internship, Wilson said.

Real-world education

Students spend the first six weeks of the class preparing to go out to different internship sites in the community, including learning how to take vital signs and acquiring other day-to-day skills like bed-making and transferring patients to wheelchairs, Wilson said.

Then students get the chance to explore career choices in depth and have the chance to enroll in online courses, take exams and become certified as nursing assistants and/or pharmacy technicians.

Internship experiences include physical therapy, surgical technology, diagnostic imaging, dentistry, nursing, obstetrics, veterinary medicine, respiratory therapy and multiple hospital sites.

Some students must have additional immunizations, criminal background checks and drug screens as required by their internship, Wilson said.

She also appreciates the partnerships with medical providers in the community, but wishes they had a pediatric site, as many of her students have expressed an interest in that field.

Once students have completed their internships, they get another real-world experience: being evaluated by a supervisor. They also come together in the classroom and share their clinical experiences.

For some, it will change their path, and they may decide they don't want to be a nurse or doctor.

"They learn things about themselves. This class prepares them to go out into the world with professional skills that can get them a job," Wilson said.

She noted that the most rewarding part about the program is "seeing kids figure out their futures and helping them grow."

Ultimately, the Health Sciences Level 2 program helps students stand out, Wilson said.

And the program has a legacy of success, as 70 of Wilson and Gray's students have gone on to become registered nurses and many others also have become medical professionals.

"I love coming to my job and giving back to the community," Wilson said.

Student experiences

Tiffany Kanaka and Lily Bui, both graduates of Clackamas High School, said that Health Sciences Level 2 helped them make career choices.

"I thought I wanted to be a nurse and then found out I didn't want to be a nurse," Kanaka said.

However, after an internship where she observed what an ultrasound technician does, she decided that will be her path in the medical field. She will attend Mt. Hood Community College in the fall and transfer to Oregon Institute of Technology. This summer, Kanaka will work at the Marquis facility in Oregon City.

Bui started off wanting to be a doctor, and then, after internships in the operating room, emergency department and ICU, she now wants to be a registered nurse in the emergency room.

"This has been the best experience of my life," Bui said, noting that she will attend Washington State University in the fall and will work at the Mt. Tabor Marquis facility in the summer.

CHS graduates Alena Decoito and Sandra Srey are set to go on to nursing school in the fall; Decoito to the University of Hawaii and Srey to the University of Oregon. They both will work in the Oregon City Marquis facility this summer.

Decoito said the best thing about the program was getting certified as a nursing assistant and completing an EKG course.

Srey also earned her CNA certification and completed an EKG course because both of those things "add to my skill set and put me ahead of the game."

She also enjoyed working as an intern with "real nurses and doing the things that real nurses do. I also gained more confidence to work with residents at Marquis."

Confidence building

Arielle Digman and Hailey Pasco, both CHS graduates, also will be attending nursing school; Digman at the University of Portland and Pasco at the University of Alabama.

She knew she wanted to be a nurse, Digman said, but her internships confirmed it for her.

"The CNA class is such a good thing. Not only do you gain patient skills, but it builds up your confidence," she said. "There were things I didn't know I could do, and now I can do those things by myself."

Digman, who will work this summer at the Marquis facility in Oregon City, noted that in her first day of an internship in the emergency department, she was asked to assist a technician in putting in a catheter.

"Now I know what the emergency department is all about," she said.

Pasco was interested in the medical field, but after her internships she figured out she wanted to be a nurse, specifically a nurse in the emergency department because she likes the atmosphere there.

"My favorite thing was in the emergency department and seeing a surgeon sew a finger back on that had been bitten off by a dog. I loved this," Pasco said.

Learn more

Visit to learn more about the health sciences classes at Sabin-Schellenberg.

To learn more about Marquis Companies, visit This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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