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Students Get Hands on Experience with Careers in Health, Medical Sciences

Published on: 11/22/2022


About 100 sixth graders from three middle schools got real-world experience from professionals in the health and medical sciences field on Monday, with another 100 from three more middle schools joining the program Tuesday. 

The students took part in the Building Learning Opportunities and Options in Medical Sciences, or BLOOM, program, which gave the students a hands-on day of exploration into careers in the medical sciences field. 

On Monday, students from Seneca Ridge Middle School, Sterling Middle School and Riverbend Middle School heard from speakers from a range of jobs in the medical field, practiced CPR with Loudoun Fire and Rescue, toured the Inova Loudoun Hospital mobile health bus and tried their virtual reality skills with Dr. Arik King of Future Kings, a nonprofit after-school program that serves boys of color from economically challenged communities and focuses on STEM. 

An Inova healthcare worker talks to a student at Seneca Ridge Middle School on Nov. 21. 100 students attended the BLOOM event that focused on exposing sixth graders to careers in health and medical sciences. 

“What we are going to do is we are going to bloom and what does bloom mean? We are really trying to build some learning opportunities and options in health and medical sciences. We want to give you an opportunity to explore all of the potential career paths that you might have in health and medical sciences, and you all have a captive audience of the professionals and the experts in the field to give you these experiences,” Renee Dawson, assistant director of CTE, computer science and community connection with the school division. 

Dawson said she is always looking at ways to expand opportunities to provide division students with college and career readiness. She said they decided to gear BLOOM toward sixth graders to give the students the earliest touch point in middle school, to give them a taste and open their minds to what is possible. 

She said workforce data shows careers in health and medical sciences is trending up and she said preparing students for this field while partnering with Inova, Loudoun Fire and Rescue and Dr. King seemed like a “natural marriage.” 

Loudoun Fire and Rescue Deputy Battalion Chief, Jamie Cooper talked with students about a career in fire and rescue and answered questions about the job, salary and how they get patients in and out of the ambulance. 

“It’s a job where you can make a difference in someone’s life,” Cooper said. 

Cooper said one of the coolest things about working with fire and EMS is the opportunities for high school students to get involved before they graduate, when a program through Loudoun Fire and Rescue hires and trains them in 26 weeks. 

He said there are jobs available to students who want to work in the medical field but who don’t want to spend years in school.

Deputy Battalion Chief Jamie Cooper talks to students while standing outside an ambulance on Nov. 21 at the BLOOM event at Seneca Ridge Middle School. BLOOM provided sixth graders hands on experience in the health and medical sciences field.

“The cool thing about the fire department and EMS services is, it doesn’t matter what your hobby or interest is, there is a place for you in today’s fire service,” he said. “If you like IT, we have an IT track we can put you on. If you like medicine, we will pay for all your schooling up through becoming a paramedic.” 

Sixth grader Mikaela Wakefield said she attended BLOOM because she was always interested in science and how the heart worked. She said she wanted to hear from people who actually work in the field to get more information about careers in the medical field. 

“It’s not what we think, you only think about doctors and nurses but there are other jobs,” Wakefield said. She said she learned that a hospital is like a city and there are many different positions. 

“If you have this opportunity to do this, it’s really cool,” she said. 

BLOOM is a collaborative effort between Loudoun County Public Schools, The Loudoun Education Foundation and Inova Health System. Inova Health System provided a $12,000 grant to fund the program.

On Tuesday, students from J.L. Simpson, Smart’s Mill, and Harper Park Middle School will get the same experience. 

Author :Alexis Gustin

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