Hard at work on an anatomy lesson on a recent Friday afternoon were a future cardiologist, pathologist, pharmacist, nurse, athletic trainer, Navy dentist and several teens still deciding.
Delhi High School students interested in careers in a medical vein can explore their options through the health science and medical technology career pathway with teacher Carolyn Rodriguez. Like all of Merced County’s ROP teachers, Rodriguez came from the industry she teaches about, earning a teaching credential after deciding she wanted to explore a new career.
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“I think this is where I should be,” Rodriguez said while her class traced life-size figures and started drawing in the bones. Time as a nurse in a variety of programs and supervisory posts, she said, gave her the perfect background for the job she has now.
“These kids are great. You can see how passionate they are,” she said.
If I wasn’t in this type of class, I wouldn’t know what I wanted to be.
Moira Mendoza, Delhi High student
Sitting at the long row of desks, future pharmacist Esmeralda Arellano said she liked the course because it helped her focus on a goal.
“We’re learning about different careers, how to get in them,” she said. Sitting beside her, Jasmin Aguilar said the course helped her figure out her next steps to get into nursing school.
“We get more opportunities to see more colleges,” said Moira Mendoza. She’s already spoken with a Navy recruiter and picked out the dental program she hopes to train in after high school.
“If I wasn’t in this type of class, I wouldn’t know what I wanted to be,” she said.
The medical courses include an overview of health careers, medical office administration, medical technologies and sports medicine, as well as industry basics such as patient confidentiality. The Merced County Office of Education offers health-related ROP classes at most county high schools.
MCOE and the Delhi Unified School District team up to offer several career paths to Delhi students, said Principal Vincent Gonzalez. Other options include FFA ag courses, criminal justice classes and business entrepreneur studies – pathways student choose by their interest, he said.
It’s an opportunity for these students to stay focused and stay on track.
Vincent Gonzalez, Delhi High principal
“Not every student’s going to go to college, but it’s all about college and career. We want to take them to the point where they have a choice,” Gonzalez said. “It’s an opportunity for these students to stay focused and stay on track.”
Those in career courses stick with their academics as well, he noted: “When students are confident in their learning, (until graduation) it’s a job not done.”
The Delhi students also work at medical offices to get experience and gain insight.
Rodriguez, the teacher, recalled seeing a student working in an X-ray office help a cancer patient get to her feet.
“He gave her every ounce of dignity,” she said. “Part of learning to be a tech is also learning to treat the person who has the disease, to empower the patient.”
She works with science teachers to link medical themes with Advanced Placement courses but, Rodriguez added, “I also have a lot of heart for students who aren’t college-bound at this point in their lives.”
Looking around the class, she added, “I try to put everything in perspective.”