Portal Students Dual Enroll with
|When students at Portal Middle/High School started the school year recently, the school building was not the only thing new. A Patient Care Assisting (PCA) class, offered as a dual enrollment option from Ogeechee Technical College, also made its debut in Portal. With a classroom full of juniors and seniors, instructor Lee Street is able to offer something that has long been on her list of needs at the school in northern Bulloch County. “For quite some time I have wanted to offer some sort of introduction to healthcare for our students, but budget constraints kept us from doing it. Having Ogeechee Tech offer this PCA class is the answer to that need,” stated Street. With a bachelors in nursing from Georgia Southern University, Street is the school nurse at Portal Middle/High School and serves in that capacity from 7:30am to 1:30pm each day, before becoming a dual enrollment instructor for Ogeechee Technical College on the Portal campus from 1:30 until 3:00pm.
Street says that technology plays a large role in the delivery of information about healthcare and Patient Care Assisting. Students research various topics on healthcare, most recently studying diabetes and its impact on patients. But online study is only part of the coursework. “We have quite a bit of lecture, and plenty of hands-on clinical work planned,” stated Street. “We will even have three days where students will work in a nursing home to have the chance to help actual patients.” All clinical experiences are under the direct supervision of Street and clinical preceptors at the institutions, Street is quick to add. For senior class member, Maci Cook, the prospect of taking care of a patient is exciting. “I love helping people, and I’m going to do my best when it comes to caring for patients,” stated Cook. Although she one day hopes to be a physical therapist, Cook said the experience gained in the PCA class will help her confirm that she can handle the demands of patient care. She describes the class as “fun, interesting, and something new” for her.
Street confirms that the students are interested in what they are learning, and that the engagement they feel in actually earning college credit and a certification which will allow them to work, helps keep the students on track. “I think our students see the value in this program because they know that they can do something with the training they are receiving,” commented Street. One attraction, according to Maci Cook, is that the program allows for entry into a profession in which she is interested, but for which there is some uncertainty. “Healthcare is not for everyone, and some people may not find it a good career fit. Taking this course helps these students have a pretty good idea of whether they can make it in healthcare before they invest too much time in a post high school program of study,” Street stated.
Brionna Flood’s mother is a registered nurse, so following in her mother’s footsteps is important to her. “This is a good start for me,” said Flood. As a member of the PCA class at Portal, Brionna has the chance to get a certification that will allow her to work in the medical field while pursuing her nursing degree. Like Cook, Flood finds the class, “quite interesting” and is excited about the impending clinical opportunities. As a senior at Portal, Flood knows she has decisions ahead which will impact the rest of her life. Making a decision to pursue a college level program while still in high school is a decision with which she feels comfortable. “I’m glad I got in this class, and I can’t wait to actually start taking care of patients,” said Flood.
At Ogeechee Technical College, dual enrollment is an option available at a number of local high schools, according to vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Charlene Lamar. “Students have the opportunity to participate in dual enrollment at most of the high schools in Bulloch, Evans, and Screven Counties,” explained Lamar. Ogeechee Tech’s primary service delivery area, and the counties for which the College is responsible for dual enrollment, include those three counties. “We try to target subject areas which will offer students an opportunity to explore career options while giving them viable training and skills with which to work, even if they do not pursue further education in that area,” stated Lamar. The fact that dual enrollment is designed for those who may go on to further their education, as well as those who may choose to go straight into the workforce, is part of the beauty of the program, according to OTC president, Dr. Dawn Cartee. “We know that some students are unsure of what they will do after high school. Taking a dual enrollment program can give them the chance to try out a career option while they still have plenty of time to finalize their plans for after graduation,” stated Cartee. “There is value in dual enrollment, whether students try a subject area, don’t like it and never pursue it, or earn a certification with which they can work to support themselves, or use the training as a stepping stone to further education in their chosen field. It is all about giving them options and choices which make their lives better,” Cartee continued.
“Chances are some of these students will pursue a career in healthcare, while others will simply take away some good life skills, such as taking a blood pressure, knowing how to perform CPR, or just knowing the health risks of certain diseases. Regardless, the things they learn in this class will help them, and that is what it is all about,” explained Street. At Ogeechee Technical College, expanding the offerings of dual enrollment at high schools is a goal which will only come to fruition with the support of the high schools themselves. “With scheduling and facilities being a major component of a successful dual enrollment program, we depend on the high schools to support dual enrollment, and work to help us make it successful,” stated Lamar. While joint enrolled students are high school students who attend college classes and receive college credit only, dual enrolled students generally take their college classes as part of their high school schedule, receiving high school and college credit, which requires coordination between the high school and Ogeechee Tech.
Hillari Brown is OTC’s High school coordinator, a position in which she focuses on supporting the programs at all the area high schools. “We currently have dual enrollment options at Portal, Southeast Bulloch, Statesboro, Screven County, and Claxton High Schools. Programs which are currently offered include, medical receptionist, criminal justice, hotel/restaurant/tourism management, and of course PCA,” stated Brown. All courses are not offered at all the schools, according to Brown. Wildlife and Plantation Management, and welding are offered as dual enrollment options for high school students, but are taught on the OTC campus. “We are always interested in expanding the number of dual enrollment students in our classes, as well as the course offerings,” stated Lamar. “Students and their parents should express their interest in expanded dual enrollment offerings to their high school administrators, as well as to us here at Ogeechee Tech.”
Meanwhile, back at Portal/Middle High School, Lee Street’s PCA students are learning about diabetes, are planning to participate in an American Diabetes Association fundraiser, and looking forward to the hands-on experience they will get when they go to their clinical site. “The engagement that technical education provides and the opportunity to put what they learn into action intrigues my students, and through that interest and curiosity can begin careers that serve them well in life,” concluded Street. Portal assistant principal, Stephen Hoyle, agrees with Street. “Having OTC's Patient Care Assisting program here on our campus provides our students with another career-technical elective. It also introduces our students to the many career opportunities in the health care field,” stated Hoyle.
To learn more about any Ogeechee Technical College dual enrollment option, or to explore the expansion of dual enrollment offerings at your student’s school, contact Hillari Brown at (912) 871-1937.
Contact: Barry Turner
Executive Director for Public Relations
Phone: (912) 688-6958