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School Board considers med school program

December 09, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Future doctors, nurses and other health professionals might one day be able to get an early start on their careers at North Hagerstown High School.

The Washington County Board of Education is considering a plan to start a medical careers program there. It would become the school system's third academy, a set of courses geared toward specific jobs.

North High Principal Dave Reeder said there is a niche market for medical professionals in the community.

"The opportunities are out there," he said. "We know the community has a need for stimulating more interest in the medical field."

Reeder told the School Board he sometimes asks at assemblies, "Is there a doctor in the house?" About a quarter of the parents raise their hands, according to the principal. A medical academy is needed, appropriate and would be supported, he said.

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No additional staff would be needed for the program, Reeder said, and it would not require any curriculum changes. "We have everything we need," he said.

Reeder submitted a proposed class schedule that shows a rigorous four years. Academy students would be required to complete pre-calculus, physics, anatomy and physiology before the end of their junior years.

Part of the two-year program would involve independent study or outside speakers. Teachers involved in the academy would be encouraged to spend time in the summer working in math or medical fields related to their courses.

Only 25 students with expertise in math and science would be eligible, Reeder said. It would be open to students in all schools through transfers. An advisory board of medical professionals such as Health Officer Robert Parker would select candidates.

The board also would secure summer jobs for students between their junior and senior years. "Internships are the biggest part," said Reeder.

The school's location is an advantage because it is near so many medical establishments, according to the proposal.

North High is next to the Washington County Health Department, five miles from Washington County Hospital and three miles from the Community Free Clinic. Most of the county's medical practitioners are within a 15-mile radius, the proposal says.

School Board member Andrew Humphreys asked how the program would interact with an existing health occupations program at Washington County Technical High School. Reeder said that school serves intermediate students.

North High's program would target high-achieving students who plan to attend at least a four-year college, he said.

"There are benefits to both programs," said Supervisor of Career Technology Education John Ingersoll.

Reeder said the academy will help keep skilled students from starting careers elsewhere. "We want to keep people in Washington County," he said. "That's one of the goals of this program."

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