The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 13, 2012

Area students get a taste of medical occupations

ST PETER — The lesson du jour was braces and splints at River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic in St. Peter, and a medical professional posed this question to a group of about 25 young people in blue scrubs: If a patient has a broken bone protruding through the skin, how do you respond?

“Put it back in,” a boy offered.

“Put it back in?!” said Paula Meskan, director of nursing, with a laugh.

No, other staff answered. Do not put it back in.

But River’s Edge patients shouldn’t worry. While the young folks all looked the part of medical professionals, they were actually high school students from area districts, getting a jump on career training through the regional HIGH Step Medical Science Academy, spearheaded by St. Peter High School.

Several years ago the district began offering its first academy-based learning program for juniors and seniors. The idea was and still is to give students in-class training, but also to get them out of the classroom as much as possible for hands-on experience in numerous career fields, said St. Peter Middle/High School Principal Paul Peterson.

The medical science academy was first, and the South Central Minnesota Agricultural Science Academy and the Engineering Academy have followed. Now, dozens of students from St. Peter, Le Sueur-Henderson, St. Clair, Lake Crystal, Cleveland and Tri-City United take part, Paul said.

The students participate in the classes in 95-minute blocks. Teachers have access to buses to take them wherever need be. The agri-science students, for example, have access to the Nicollet County Fairgrounds where there’s a garden and where animals can be brought in. The medical science students recently went to Cornerstone Wellness in St. Peter for a chiropractor lesson.

Warren Peterson, engineering academy teacher, said all the academies share a common goal.

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