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HCPSS Students Receive Hands-On Experience at Howard County Medical Center

April 11th, 2024

Two Academy of Health Professions students standing outside Howard County General Hospital.

This is the first year Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) students in the Academy of Health Professions at the Applications and Research Lab (ARL) are collaborating with Howard County Medical Center (HCMC) to get hands-on observation experience in different areas of the hospital, which helps students gain exposure and explore their interests.

“We are incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to collaborate with Howard County Public School’s Certified Nursing Assistant program,” said Ron Langlotz, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, HCMC Vice President of Nursing. “This program is a remarkable initiative that enables students to witness the inner workings of the healthcare industry and understand how they can contribute to bettering their community’s health.”

During the program, CNA students were given the unique opportunity to work alongside HCMC’s skilled patient care technicians (PCTs), as well as their registered nurses, in units such as Maternal-Child, Pediatrics, Emergency Department, Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, Special Care and others.

“HCMC is graciously allowing our students to shadow and observe in the hospital setting,” said Christy Smith, BSN, RN, CEN, an educator in the Academy of Health Professions. “This is a fantastic opportunity for students to be exposed to different specialties and also different careers before they commit to a pathway in college.”

In addition to this experience, the Maryland Board of Nursing requires students to complete 40 clinical hours as one of the requirements for obtaining the CNA certification. This year, students supported patients over a five-week period at Lorien Harmony Hall, a long-term care facility in Columbia. In May 2024, they will take the CNA exam. If they pass the test, they will earn their nursing assistant certification and can register with the Maryland Board of Nursing before they graduate from high school.

“For most of our students, earning their CNA certificate is just the first step in their career. There are so many different employment opportunities in healthcare, and our goal is to open up these prospects for our students,” said Eileen Erskine, MS, CRNP an educator in the Academy of Health Professions. “We are grateful for all the staff at HCMC who made this experience possible. Our seniors are excited to graduate with an employable skill they can use as they continue their education.”

Get to know a few of the students pursuing their CNA during the 2023–2024 school year.

Hassam Khan using a medical device.

Hassam Khan, Senior, Oakland Mills High School

What did you like about this experience?
My teacher, Mrs. Erskine, is amazing and really took the time to prepare us for the healthcare field by teaching us things like the importance of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), how the different systems work, and the anatomy of the heart. Then, when the shadow experience started, I went into the hospital each time with an open mind and ended up loving the emergency department because I watched all the different staff working alongside each other so effectively and smoothly in a fast-paced environment. I also liked the interventional radiology and cardiovascular lab where I was able to see heart stents inserted into patients.

What are your plans after graduation?
We graduate from the ARL on May 9, and I am absolutely confident now that I will pursue a career in the healthcare field. Over the summer I will be traveling home to Pakistan and spend time exploring college options for the fall, which may include the nursing program at HCC. But my big dream is medical school and eventually becoming a doctor.

Valery Lopez looking at a medical chart.

Valery Lopez, Senior, Reservoir High School

How did you learn about this opportunity?
When I started at Reservoir, I would see a lot of girls in scrubs, so I approached one and she told me about this program. After completing the Foundations of Healthcare course during my junior year, I chose to pursue the CNA program at the ARL during my senior year.

Why do you want to pursue nursing?
My sister has health issues, so I have always taken care of her, and it has inspired me to pursue this path. I know how to manage seeing difficult situations. I don’t just want to watch on the sidelines because it’s hard for me to see people struggle so I want to get in there and help.

What is next for you after graduation?
I am planning to apply to be a CNA at Howard County Medical Center over the summer because I like the workplace. It’s been a really safe and welcoming environment throughout this shadow experience, which I am grateful for. I’ve gotten to know many people on different units. And then I may go to HCC to pursue my nursing degree in the fall.

Kimora Turner puting on a rubber glove.

Kimora Turner, Senior, Long Reach High School

What did you like about the shadow experience?
I need to stay busy and keep moving so I was definitely drawn to the emergency department out of all the different shadowing experiences in the hospital. And overall, this was a great experience for me and my fellow classmates. I met techs in the hospital who showed me that I can balance work and family in this type of role, which is really important to me.

What are your plans after graduation?
I hope to earn my CNA at the end of this year, and then I plan to pursue my nursing degree at HCC in the fall. I have to be a registered nurse for two to four years before I can pursue my goal of being a nurse anesthetist.

Yi Su holding onto a walker.

Yi Su, Senior, Centennial High School

How did you learn about this opportunity?
When I started at Centennial, a family friend was a junior and she was taking the Foundations of Healthcare course, so I decided to follow in her path and explore the healthcare field in my junior year, too. As a senior, I completely fell in love with everything, especially the emergency department unit, during my shadow experience. The healthcare field is so important as are all the workers.

What are your plans after graduation?
Once I get my CNA certification, I hope to work as a CNA over the summer. In the fall, I am thinking of either going to Penn State where I would do rehabilitation to pursue physical therapy, or Delaware, where I would pursue nursing. Down the road, I hope to be a travel nurse. This was a big thing during COVID, and since I don’t like being stationary this would not only make me enjoy my job, but it would allow me to explore treating a variety of patients from all over.

Learn more about the Academy of Health Professions, which offers students the opportunity to learn about the world of medicine, engage in clinical experiences, and interact with professionals in the medical community. Students learn about specialized health fields to help them choose from five specific pathways: Clinical Research in Allied Health, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Physical Rehabilitation, each with its own clinical skills training, internship experiences and certifications.