Teens get hands-on experience in health care

CMH has been helping to offer the Health Occupations class for more than two decades

Since 1997, CMH has partnered with Astoria High School and Clatsop Community College to offer a class that gives juniors and seniors from Astoria, Knappa and Warrenton the chance to explore careers in health care before they decide what to do after high school. 

Astoria High School juniors Tylene Townsend and Amarissa Perez are two of the 22 students enrolled in this year’s Health Occupations class. They sat down with Health Compass to share their experiences. 

Amarissa Perez (left) and Tylene Townsend

Amarissa Perez (left) and Tylene Townsend

Why did you sign up? 

Tylene: I knew I wanted to go into the medical field – I just didn’t quite know the direction yet.

Amarissa: Kind of the same thing. I knew I wanted to go into a health career, and I figured it’s a good class to take a step into that. 

Has it helped you develop any more direction? 

T: Yeah, I think so. I job-shadowed a pediatric nurse practitioner and a labor and delivery nurse. With the labor and delivery nurse, I actually got to help deliver a baby, which was really cool, and then I was like, “Maybe I want to do this daily.”

And you wouldn’t know that if you hadn’t been there. 

T: Exactly!

A: I think I’ve narrowed my career to being a neonatal nurse. I’ve job-shadowed a midwife, a family doctor and a pediatrician. I liked them; I found them really interesting. I found some things that were really cool that I’d like to do, and some things that were like, “Naw, I don’t think I want to do that.” It helped me to know what I want to do.

What has surprised you the most during the class?

T: I feel like we’ve learned a lot that I wasn’t expecting to learn. The job-shadowing was such a cool experience, and I didn’t think I was going to get to do that.

A: We covered a lot of little things that have opened our minds about health careers. 

Are you starting to look at colleges that fall in line with your health care interests?

T: For sure. We’ve heard that Clatsop Community has a really great program…

A: So I think that we’ll apply to that.

Would you recommend the class to your peers and why?

T: I think if I didn’t take this class and see how the medical field actually works, I probably would have got scared away because of all the education. It’s four more years, and if you want to go higher, you have eight more years. But because I see that it’s worth it, that makes it so much more exciting.

A: People often talk about all the schooling to go into health care, but not enough people talk about all the benefits and all the cool stuff that you get to do.

T: It helped a lot.

A: It opens your eyes and helps you choose. It really is a good class and a good opportunity.