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Money Approved for Medical: New HCA Grant

EVELINA ERICKSON

News Editor

A $670,000 grant has been approved for the Health Careers Academy (HCA) program at San Marcos this past month. This new grant will provide the HCA with new equipment and more funding for transportation as a means of enhancing the program.  

Originally, the academy had many fewer students than it has now. Last year, the single cohort doubled, and the amount of students began tripling this year. This created the need for additional supplies and transportation for the HCA. It seems that a reason for the increased interest in the HCA is COVID-19 itself. Through the pandemic, more and more young people are showing interest in the medical field around the world, our San Marcos Health Careers Academy is no exception. 

An article by PBS, about how the pandemic spurred student pursuits in health careers said, “Medical schools saw applications soar by about 18 percent,” said Stephanie Sy for PBSnewshour. “Public health programs reported spikes in interest for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses….Gateway Community College in Phoenix Arizona saw a 15% percent rise in interest for its licensed practical nurse and nursing assistant programs.” Because of the students’ own experiences, seeing medical professionals work to fight COVID-19 brought light to the importance of health careers, therefore bringing in more students to the HCA. This grant will now provide the necessary resources for this expansion.

11th graders in HCA learn first aid. Image courtesy of Marcene Tate

Although COVID-19 raised interest in HCA, the academy had to limit internships and disband the nursing program because of safety precautions. While this continues, the grant allows further opportunities for field trips to colleges strong in health care programs for 11th graders and to health care facilities. The HCA hopes to begin these in the Spring of this school year.

“We’re constantly looking for new ways that we can improve the program and so I work with Cottage Health and SBCC and they kind of drive what we want to spend our money on,” said the Director of the Health Careers Academy, Marcene Tate.   

In addition, the money will afford the HCA with new equipment and technology. Students will be able to dissect various parts of the body via a touch screen on 10-foot anatomical tables which cost roughly $80,000 each. They are also planning on purchasing sim-mannequins to practice more patient care procedures that regular mannequins they have now cannot do efficiently. 

“I am very excited [about the grant],” said sophomore Cristina Wickline, who begins her HCA classes next semester. “I think it’s going to be a great and a great way for us to further education in that field.”

Along with education comes teaching. Part of the money the HCA will receive is going to go toward professional development for the staff. It gives the staff members of the HCA the opportunity to attend viable conferences that would help them as health professionals. 

Senior Mariana Cardena Dernal and junior Mia Ruvalcaba Rubio study samples in their HCA class. Image courtesy of Marcene Tate

Ms. Tate went on to explain the process of getting the grant. She worked with the district-level CTE (Career Technical Education) coordinator, Tiffany Carson throughout the process. Initially, they proposed the idea of the HCA grant to Principal Dr. Glazer and assistant to the principal Mr. Sheldon. Once they agreed to it, Ms. Tate developed objectives and a work plan along with a budget. All of this was handled throughout numerous meetings. Originally the HCA asked for $800,000 so being approved at around $674,393, the HCA was thrilled. Ms. Tate also said the grant was nice because it was a three-year grant; meaning they did not have to use all the money at one time. The HCA will have access to the money in January and will be able to spend the money the rest of this year, and the next following two years.

This aspect of the grant is especially helpful in this day and age with new technologies frequently developing. The medical industry continues to be one of the most impacted industries by technological innovation. The HCA purchasing the anatomical tables and sim-mannequins are just two examples of this. It is essential that San Marcos students have updated technology as the medical industry updates as well, to create the best learning environment for students. This new grant will make that possible and prepare the HCA students for their future endeavors.

So, after a long process to receive the approval for the grant and the expansion of the academy, the 21 year old Health Careers Academy, is excited for the next few years as they enhance the program.  

Evelina Erickson

News Editor

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