The healthcare industry includes many of the most in-demand jobs in the American marketplace right now. In fact, The Atlantic magazine recently noted that the healthcare industry has become the largest source of jobs in the country.
It is with an eye on this trend that Mary G. Montgomery High School has made changes in its Signature Academy program.
Biomedical Sciences, once a secondary academy at the school, now takes center stage as one of two pathways in MGM’s new Signature Academy: Professional Health Services. The other pathway is a new program that has grown out of a previously offered course: Sports Medicine.
“Through surveying our students and the changes in the different trends of careers, we felt the need to change to something that was on a rising trend for careers for our students,” said Mary Montgomery Academy Specialist Terra Price. “It has actually been a very big success for our students. I would say we’ve got about 200 kids within those two different pathways that make up that academy.”
Signature Academies are small learning communities focused on specific career fields within each of Mobile County Public Schools’ 12 high schools. They are each partnered with local businesses, industries, colleges and governmental entities that serve as mentors and sources of practical information and training about those chosen fields.
MCPSS students from throughout the county can apply and transfer to any Signature Academy that addresses their interests.
Mary Montgomery’s business partners are: Semmes Physical Therapy, Alabama Orthopedic Clinic, the University of South Alabama and the University of Mobile.
The curriculum within the Biomedical Sciences program is broad enough to be useful for students who aspire to become anything from doctors and nurses to veterinarians and paramedics, Price said. It spans from learning the locations and functions of internal organs to laboratory projects like isolating and testing DNA.
“I actually did medical research for 10 years before starting to teach, so I’m super-excited to teach these kids the techniques that I learned in graduate school, so they’re prepared to go to college and they can actually get jobs working in a lab,” said Karla McInnis, one of the teachers in the program.
Price said the Sports Medicine pathway was added due to growth in the fields of sports medicine and physical therapy and the popularity of an athletic training course that had previously been offered.
Like the biomedical pathway, its curriculum and hands-on training are broad enough to be of value to students planning to enter any healthcare field, said senior Bryce Buck, who plans to study nursing in college.
”We’re learning to treat injuries – from basic things like taping jobs to extreme injuries like broken limbs. There’s a lot of hands-on work,” he said. “If you’re interested in anything in the medical field, then it’s a great program to go into.”
Mary G. Montgomery has maintained several of its other academy offerings as secondary academies: engineering sciences, business leadership, agricultural and mechanical sciences, and liberal and fine arts. Parents and students interested in the school’s academies can learn more at the MGM Academy Preview on Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. in the school’s auditorium.
“We want anybody who is interested in being part of a medical field to come see our biomedical program,” Price said. “We feel that it is Mobile County’s best-kept secret for this.”