Lana Harrison is finally moving the health sciences instruction at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School in the direction she had hoped.
Harrison, who helped establish the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) program at WHS several years back, has aspired to take the program to another level.
That came this past year, as five of her students qualified for certification to become EKG technicians with three recently passing the test; the other two were one and four points away, respectively.
“We’re excited,” Harrison said. “We’ve wanted to do this for awhile. We had some choices (as to certifications), but we started with EKG.”
As a registered nurse, Harrison remains in a position to provide the oversight instruction for students to earn a series of certifications, from phlebotomy to becoming certified nursing assistant (CNA).
The HOSA class also received some valuable equipment through a donation from Fred and Carolyn Witten and used Gulf Education Foundation grant funds to fill out a “hospital” room where hands-on instruction takes place.
Once schools were closed due to the pandemic, the class, which started with nine and whittled to five by the official end of the school year, did some distance learning through Zoom.
In addition, twice a week, wearing masks and sitting well apart from each other, the class met at the school.
“I was interested in it,” said Janna Jones after the students, in chorus, replied “No” to the question of whether they ever thought of ceasing that ordeal.
By year’s end and graduation, all five: Jones along with Alex Johns, Aleah Wooten, Tessa Myers and Savannah Lister, had completed the coursework and were on to the certification test.
In addition, those five were among the HOSA students from Wewahitchka that were due to participate in HOSA state competition if not for the closure of schools, Harrison noted.
Again, in unison, the four on hand this week to show a reporter around the “hospital” room replied, “Jobs” when asked about their interest in the HOSA program; all indicated a desire to pursue an occupation in the medical field.
Harrison noted that with certifications each student could work immediately as an EKG technician, an occupation that pays up to $35,000 a year depending on location and demand.
In a broader sense, the HOSA program aims to meet a projected future shortfall of health care workers.