Future healthcare workers at Capital High School

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Future healthcare workers get a head start at Capital High School
Students learning to sutureSome of the students in Rebekah Mattes’s sports medicine class at Capital High School want to be doctors. Some want to be physical therapists. Some dream of becoming professional athletes -- or professional athletic trainers. One thing they all share in common is a passion for learning about medicine and the human body.

Students at Capital have the opportunity to participate in one of four sports medicine classes: Introduction to Sports Medicine, Advanced Sports Medicine, Sports Medicine Practicum, and IB Sports, Exercise and Health Science. The school also offers a Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) club for future health professionals. The classes are part of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program.

Sports medicine students learn about muscular and skeletal systems, injuries to the body, how these injuries occur and how they can be treated. Students also learn about general medicine conditions such as heat illness and frostbite, as well as emergency conditions like asthma, anaphylaxis, stroke and heart attacks. They practice skills such as taping, splinting, suturing, crutch fitting and sling fitting. Other topics include injury evaluation, healthcare careers, CPR/First Aid and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) certification through American Red Cross, nutrition, and fitness and conditioning.

For the IB class the similarities include learning muscular and skeletal anatomy, but from there it goes in a different direction. Students focus on more body systems like cardiovascular, respiratory and energy systems. They learn the basic anatomy and functions, then how it ties in to exercise. IB students also cover fitness testing, sports psychology, experimental design, biomechanics, nutrition and skill in sport.

Ella Meyer, an 11th grader who took advanced sports medicine last spring, said she signed up for the class because she wants to one day be a pediatrician. She has also found the information useful as a volleyball player, using her taping skills to help teammates.

“It’s interesting to learn about the medical side of sports,” Meyer said. “The class is easy for me because I really like the stuff that we’re learning now. I think the hardest part has been the memorization of all the terms.”

Mattes said students in her classes often find the skills they learn immediately useful. “I have a lot of students who are athletes. If I can teach them anything about how to take care of their bodies and optimize their performance, I see that as a win. I think just being educated on the human body, how it works is so big for kids when they make those connections in their daily life. I had a student tell me that they went in to see a doctor for an injury and they were so excited because they could actually understand what the doctor was telling them because they took my class. Also, the obvious ones to know -- CPR/First Aid and how to use an AED. Those situations are scary, but we talk through a lot of scenarios and practice so they are as prepared as possible for an emergency.”

Senior Luke Poier said he feels confident that he could respond to a medical emergency after taking Mattes’s class. Like all sports medicine students, Poier received his CPR/First Aid and AED certification through the American Red Cross as part of the class. He hopes to one day work as a physical therapist.

Whether students choose to pursue medical careers or not, they are certain to benefit from taking sports medicine, Mattes said. “I think these students are so lucky! I'm very passionate about what I teach, and I just hope I can instill that in my students too. For those going into medicine, I want to build that foundation and help them be prepared for the next steps in their education. For those not going into medicine, it is so important to know how your body works so you can take better care of it.”

Students enrolled in sports medicine receive high school CTE or elective credits. They are also eligible to receive college credit from Pierce College.