High schools students interested in the medical field need not worry too much about their future in San Benito. San Benito High School has offered the Health Science Program to their students for over 10 years now. While enrolled in this program, students can enter the work force immediately after high school or have a leg up on the competition in the pre-med program at the university level. According to Hector Rendon, Career and Technical Education Director, the program offers students a chance to try their hand at Medical Assisting, Medical Office Assisting, Medical Billing & Coding, or become a Certified Nursing Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, or an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
“Within those choices, [the students] have the opportunity to get their certification,” said Rendon. “In the Emergency Medical Technician and Pharmacy Technician categories, the requirement is they must graduate from high school first in order for students to take their certification exam. So we test them in June, after graduation.”
Rendon continued on to say that this year was the first time the students had a 100% passing rate in all categories excluding the EMT and Pharmacy Technician categories. This is simply because the school district hasn’t received those scores yet and is waiting with baited breath. San Benito High School is also the only recognized high school south of the Houston/San Antonio area that is a certified EMT training facility. This means less travel for students and less strain on parents.
The curriculum entails students beginning their 9th grade year with Principles of Health Science followed by Medical Terminology, their 10th grade year taking Health Science and in 11th grade, students take Practicum I in conjunction with Anatomy and Physiology. The spring semester of their 11th grade year, however, students begin clinical rotations of their desired field. As they progress into their 12th grade year, students branch out from the high school and log hours at different facilities. For example, students enrolled in the EMT category of the program achieve their ambulance clinical rotations with South Texas Emergency Care Foundation, Inc. (STEC). Students ride in the ambulance with certified EMTs and aid in whatever call comes in. One student recently even helped deliver a baby! This in-field training allows the students to realize whether or not they made the right decision in joining the program.
Other facilities San Benito High School has affiliation agreements with are Valley Baptist Medical Center, La Hacienda Healthcare Rehabilitation Center and Windsor Atrium Nursing and Rehab Center. While the high school strongly encourages students to start the program their freshman year in order to obtain the full benefits of the Health Science Program, not all is lost if a student decides to join the program a little late.
“When the student doesn’t begin immediately in the 9th grade, we give them the opportunity to catch up in the 10th grade,” explained Rendon. “But after that, we try to direct them into Medical Billing & Coding, Anatomy and Physiology, and the Pharmacy Technician program because the others require more intense/specific health care training.”
One benefit available to students in the program is the opportunity to participate with HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) which allows students to compete in their designated fields either locally, regionally, statewide or nationally. According to Rendon, one young lady will be participating in a national competition in Anaheim, California for Medical Assisting.
Rendon and many other faculty members of San Benito High School are proud of their students in the Health Science program. So much so, each year, the school honors those students who have passed their certification exams with a formal ceremony.
“We have a culminating activity which is our ‘pinning’. We pin the students for the areas they become certified in,” explained Rendon. “If we know ahead of time, the ones that test early, we’re able to order their pins and do a formal ceremony. We invite the parents, teachers, everyone! We recognize the achievements they’ve made after a long road and couldn’t be prouder.”