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Judson High School's health science program partners with Converse Elementary

San Antonio’s healthcare and bioscience industry is booming, and students within the district are getting their foot in the door by training at Judson High School. While enrolled in the health science program, they have the ability to obtain numerous certifications that make them job-ready once they graduate.

This unique opportunity also allows them to have real-world experiences by working with established health care professionals in hospitals. This past year, part of their clinical work included traveling to Converse Elementary every morning and working with Ms. Heather Johnson, the campus nurse.

“It’s nice for [elementary school students] to see that ‘I can do that,” senior Erica Rodriguez said. “We came from here and we’re giving back to the community.”

While on campus, students learn from Johnson about caring for young children, which included helping students who aren’t feeling well, typical everyday stomach aches, or possibly jammed fingers at recess. They also assisted her with health screenings, including hearing, vision, and height and weight screenings.

“It was pretty special because I actually went to Converse,” senior Ronald Waiters said. “Having the ability to learn what I learn, and then eventually give back to the school that developed me and nurtured me [was great].”

One of the biggest skills health care professionals learn are soft skills, which these students not only learn in class but through their clinical work.

“It helped us with interacting with (different) patients. We had to learn how to effectively communicate with children, which is very different than speaking with other adult patients,” Waiters said. “It’s about showing more empathy and compassion with kids.”

Their experience in the program is just the start of many of their healthcare journeys.

“It’s nice that we started working with kids,” Rodriguez said. “Regardless of where we want to go in our careers, either work with adults or children, this was nice because you see them grow.”

Students enrolled in the health science program are unique in that once they graduate (and even before they graduate), they are positioned to immediately enter the workforce.

“It’s very promising that we are able to have this opportunity,” Rodriguez said. “It took a lot of hard work. But, it’s nice to know that I can have a job, especially during college. Being a medical assistant is the perfect starting point for your future career.”

Sponsored by Ms. Denise Aguilar and Ms. Jennifer Carrillo, setting these students up for success is their full circle moment. Being healthcare professionals themselves with experience in hospitals, they see a tremendous value in developing the future of their industry.

“It’s a great feeling to see these kids grow. It makes me proud,” Aguilar said. “These students have multiple certifications that guarantee them jobs when they graduate. They have more certificates than many adults that I know. They are already 10 steps ahead.”

Career and Technology Programs are crucial in developing students with hands-on skills that prepare them for a competitive job market. The health science practicum is just one of many throughout the district.

“Not only does it teach them about the hard work that is needed, but we also help prepare them for those exams, soft skills, working together as a team, working with doctors and patients, working with environmental services and CEOS - they are prepared to enter the field and provide adequate health care to the community,” Aguilar said.

Like many of the programs within Judson ISD, teachers/advisors/directors are providing students with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

“I’ve had family and friends that told me that if they had these opportunities in high school, they would’ve taken it. If you have the opportunity to be in one of these programs, take it, because you don’t know if you’ll get this opportunity again,” senior Carlos Cruz said.

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