HOUSTON (July 20, 2015)

Daily, Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital serves as a convenient access point to quality, advanced healthcare but recently the hospital served as a bridge from the classroom to the healthcare world for several local high school educators.

For the second consecutive year, five teachers from John H. Reagan High School Health Science Academy shadowed Memorial Hermann Northwest personnel in the imaging, pharmacy, rehabilitation, engineering, business administration, food and nutrition, and laboratory services during a four-day visit at the hospital.

“This experience at Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital will enable our teachers to better communicate with the students about healthcare and the fields they can choose for their careers,” said Cynthia Ford, Assistant Principal of the Health Science Academy at Reagan High School. “This has been really great for the teachers.”

The partnership between Memorial Hermann Northwest and Reagan High School is part of the Houston Independent School District’s Linked Learning externship program, which aims to align academic practices with workplace experience.

“We strongly believe in supporting education and the community surrounding our hospital,” said Susan Jadlowski, Sr. Vice President and CEO at Memorial Hermann Northwest. “Our partnership with Reagan High School through HISD’s Linked Learning benefits the community, the students and the hospital. We are helping the teachers educate and create future healthcare workers who may very well be care providers at our own hospital someday.”

The externship program is a professional development vehicle that exposes teachers to various industries to help better craft meaningful and relevant curriculum to their students.

“A lot of times in the classroom, it’s all theory,” said James Johnson, who teaches geography, humanities and cultural studies at the high school. “We got a chance to see healthcare in practice. Now we can implement what we’ve seen in practice for the students so they can see how the theory matches up.”

Douglas Cagle, RN, BSN, MBA, can vouch for the impact hands-on programs like Linked Learning can have on students. Cagle, the Patient Safety Specialist at Memorial Hermann Northwest, participated in a health sciences program in high school that gave him access to observe advanced surgery and perform nursing assistant duties.

“That vivid part of watching surgery made me know I wanted to get into an operating room,” said Cagle, who has worked as an OR nurse. “That experience in high school really gave me the direction for college. The exposure helped open my eyes to what you could do with an education in health care.”

Registered Nurse Ashley Kellogg and Memorial Hermann Northwest’s Quality Director, concurred with Cagle.

“I like that there is connectivity between the school and the hospital that they’ll be providing future employees to,” said Kellogg. “Experiences like this help align their teaching with our culture and they’ll connect students with the right concepts.”

Byronica Pickney, RN, who teaches health sciences at Reagan, participated in the program last year.

“Teaching on the career aspect, I can tell students what to expect when they’re working in the hospital or any medical profession,” Pickney said. “Now that I can see what has changed and what is new, I can take that back to the students.”

The healthcare industry in Houston is robust and poised for sustained growth with Memorial Hermann and other healthcare providers leading the way on multi-billion dollar hospital construction and expansion projects in the Texas Medical Center and the greater Houston region. That expansion in facilities translates to sustained workforce growth and opportunities for students like those at Reagan in the not-too-distant future—if they’re prepared.

“We don’t want to be behind the times,” Pickney said. “We want to keep the students up-to-date about what they can expect in the healthcare industry.”