October 26, 2022
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
WALNUT, CA--All eyes were on teacher Jennifer Carreno as she demonstrated a blood draw on a medical forearm during the fifth period Advanced Medical Assisting class.
Students wearing their blue scrubs eagerly gathered as she walked through the steps of donning sterile gloves, snuggly wrapping a tourniquet, swabbing the area with alcohol, positioning intake vials, locating the vein, and finally using the sharp to simulate drawing blood.
There was even a hanging bag of red plasma (water and food coloring) for the full effect.
Then it was the students' turn.
The close-knit group applauded the first volunteer after he completed the detailed task.
These practical learning opportunities and experiences are helping Walnut High School students determine whether they have a passion to pursue a career in the medical field.
“Every minute of this pathway has been enjoyable,” shared senior Camden Tsou.
“It’s expanded my skill set and knowledge of the field that I want to go into.”
Teens are learning to remove stitches, wrap wounds, and care for people when they are in need.
“And that’s what drove me to the program,” he added.
On Monday, students rotated through several clinical sessions including performing CPR, taking blood pressure, and probing IVs.
“This class is hands-on and I like learning the skills,” shared junior Kiran Moritani who wants to become a nurse - just like her mother.
A common thread with many students is having a relative in the healthcare field.
“Families hope their children will continue the tradition,” Carreno offered.
Senior Christian Juria, whose parents are both nurses, has already applied to nursing school for next year.
“I really like the content of these courses and everything about the medical field – the terminology, clinical tasks, and basic nursing procedures,” he said.
Juria said the best thing about the Nursing Pathway is the independence that their teacher allows.
“At the same time, she’s guiding us and looking over what we’re doing, then correcting if needed.”
“It feels empowering!”
Junior Salvadar Magdaleno said he is most proud of the CPR certification he earned in class.
“This program seemed cool when I signed up, but I stayed because it’s fun!”
Junior John Galicia joined the Nursing Pathway last year because he has cousins that are nurses.
“Then I got interested and now I’m back this year – it’s my favorite class!”
The school’s robust Career Technical Education (CTE) program is preparing young people for productive futures in a wide range of careers including early childhood education, architecture, business entrepreneurship, sports medicine, graphic design, and video production.
Over 150 students are currently enrolled in the Nursing Pathway which offers three sequenced courses: Health Careers, Nursing, and Medical Assisting.
Students are learning to use medical equipment and qualifying for college credit in medical terminology.
Carreno is a licensed registered nurse who began teaching at Walnut High during the height of the pandemic in 2020.
Now that restrictions have eased, she is eager to resume work-based learning at a local hospital.
“We’re trying to go to a site a few times a semester to get the real-world experience shadowing nurses,” she said.
Each day in class, Carreno shows her students what a career in nursing looks like and that she truly loves her job.
“And if I can make them as passionate about healthcare as I am – that’s my goal!”
Walnut High School Nursing Pathway students practice clinical skills.