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Students make strides towards their future with HBSA

Senior+Health+and+Bioscience+Academy+student+Maria+Garcia+studies+for+her+upcoming+exam+to+become+a+certified+CNA.
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Students make strides towards their future with HBSA

Senior Health and Bioscience Academy student Maria Garcia studies for her upcoming exam to become a certified CNA.

Senior Health and Bioscience Academy student Maria Garcia studies for her upcoming exam to become a certified CNA.

Senior Health and Bioscience Academy student Maria Garcia studies for her upcoming exam to become a certified CNA.

Senior Health and Bioscience Academy student Maria Garcia studies for her upcoming exam to become a certified CNA.

Meghan Edwards, News Editor

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When most students think about their dream of becoming a medical professional, they usually think of a lengthy and expensive college education. DHS students though, have the opportunity for a whole different journey – one that can skip over all of the scholarship applications, loans, musty dorm rooms, and final exams.

Thanks to the Danbury High School Health and Bioscience Academy (HBSA), students can become a practicing certified nursing assistant (CNA) right out of high school, if they choose.

HBSA  allows juniors and seniors to get hands-on experience working as a CNA at Danbury Hospital – giving baths to actual patients, checking vitals and providing incontinence care – while also learning about anatomy, the different fields of medicine and how to actually take care of a patient in the classroom.

“Our program is unique because we explore all career paths. Our students also get clinical hours during the school day, it’s not extra and they don’t have to miss class because of it and it’s not just an observation; our kids actually have to care for the person” says registered nurse and teacher Katie Tong.

Students say that this first-hand experience as a nurse is the best indicator of whether they truly want to spend their future in healthcare.

Senior Korey Pinkrakthok who will be attending the University of Connecticut’s School of Nursing in the fall, says that HBSA is what solidified his goal to become a nurse.

“I didn’t really know what else to do before being in the program. Then, I realized I liked the feeling I got from helping people as a CNA so I just decided to take it one step further and study nursing.”

For some students, they knew they wanted to something related to medicine, but were still conflicted as to what exactly that was. That was where HBSA came in.

“It gives me a leg up while I’m in school because I can see jobs that I do and don’t like” says senior Catherine Costa who will also be studying nursing at Western Connecticut State University in the fall.

Student’s ability to decide on a career path before any commitment is an especially beneficial part of the program, says Tong. From being a CNA and learning about different fields, students can actually see if they like medicine and healthcare before all the college loans hit.

One thing that is important to Pinkrakthok is that, after successful completion of the class and a passing certification exam score, students can get a job as a CNA right out of high school. This means no more classrooms, no more teachers, and no more tests ever again if they choose – and if they don’t, it’s at least an opportunity to chip away at that $30,000 annual tuition while in school.

Danbury’s Health and Bioscience Academy is more than just taking classes, avoiding future classes, and finding interest in a field, though. What makes it unique is the first-hand experience that students receive.

Our students don’t just learn about what goes on in a hospital, or observe the nurses working at the hospital; they actually do the jobs they would be doing as a CNA.”

— Katie Tong

“Our students don’t just learn about what goes on in a hospital, or observe the nurses working at the hospital; they actually do the jobs they would be doing as a CNA” Tong says.

This gives students an edge in their future since they already know what to expect in their career.

Junior Ty’lynn Ith says, “Since it’s really hands-on, you get a good understanding of why things are done the way they’re done. I now understand the reasoning behind everything, so things that used to gross me out I’m unbothered by.”

Tong says this is particularly useful for college-bound students, as many university nursing and pre-med programs require a certain number of clinical hours before even applying.

“Some schools require up to 700 hours of experience or they won’t even look at your application,” she says, “everything we do in the classroom and at the hospital counts towards those hours and for those that leave the program with a license can use that to get hours too.”

The students spend three periods a day studying healthcare in three different courses: nursing assistant internship (the period where students go to the hospital once a week), anatomy and physiology, and advanced healthcare and bioscience.

That’s 135 minutes a day of pure healthcare, leaving almost no time for anything non-medical in a student’s schedule. Like an overload of anything, this makes for HBSA to get a little stressful at times.

Costa says, “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t scary at times because it’s scary to walk into a patient’s room and have to care for them. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t question my decision to be a nurse because it’s really tough and you deal with a lot of heavy stuff, but it’s reached a point where I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

She says, though, that the camaraderie she feels inside the classroom among her classmates has gotten her through the toughest times.

“It’s not like a mandatory class where people don’t care about what they are learning. We are all working towards an end goal and we take it very seriously. We all care so much about each other and each other’s success” Costa says.

Every student can agree that it takes a lot of tenacity and difficult work to be successful in HBSA.

“It’s set up like a college class which makes it really helpful for the future but also a lot of work” Ith says.

This extensive workload is what makes it necessary for an application process to be completed before admittance into the program, including a short essay detailing the applicant’s interest in HBSA.

Tong says the main factors she looks for when decided who to admit into the program are: a solid attendance record, good grades – especially in science classes, though overall improvement is also taken into account – and why the student actually wants to be in the program.

Despite the struggles, year after year, students rave about the importance of HBSA, which is why it continues to be at the core of what makes DHS unique and excellent.

As Costa says, “For people who want to be in the healthcare field, applying for the nursing program isn’t an opportunity they would want to miss. I’m going to remember this class forever and all the things it taught me about healthcare, and about myself.”

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About the Writer
Meghan Edwards, News Editor

My name is Meghan Edwards and I am the News Editor for the Hatters’ Herald year of 2017-2018. Last year, as a junior, I decided to take journalism to...

1 Comment

One Response to “Students make strides towards their future with HBSA”

  1. Mrs. Tong on June 15th, 2018 10:16 am

    Meghan, great job on the article!

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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Danbury High School     43 Clapboard Ridge Road Danbury, CT 06811     (203) 797-4800
Students make strides towards their future with HBSA