Red Cloud Students Shadow Medical Professionals

posted on April 30, 2013

Students from Red Cloud Indian School are taking learning outside the classroom this semester. ‘Anatomy,’ taught by medical student and volunteer teacher Shannon McConnaughey, is providing students with real-world experience in the medical industry.  Through an experiential learning component in the course, students are working alongside doctors and nurses at the Indian Health Services’ Pine Ridge Hospital to experience the health care profession first-hand.  

Spending a portion of their time in the classroom with Ms. McConnaughey, nine high school students learn about the systems of the body, physiology, biology and more before traveling down the road a total of 21 times during the semester to observe and assist practitioners in their daily routines.

“In the classroom we learn about anatomy and physiology and then I take that knowledge to the hospital where I learn about the procedures, patient rights and what it’s like to be a nurse.” says senior Mickie Hudspeth. “It is a different, quicker pace at the hospital, it keeps me interested and is a nice change from the scheduled school day. It has been a great experience.”

For many students, the class has provided a better understanding of the human body—while also opening their minds to possible career choices.

“I realized there are only two industries that seem to be constant in the world, medical and fast food. And I don’t want to work in fast food,” says senior Michael Kelly, laughing. “I’ve found that I really enjoy radiology and the skeletal system.” While Kelly doesn’t know exactly what role he will fill within the medical field, he believes this class has set him on a path toward his future. “I now know that I want to work in the medical field,” he says.

“I think after taking this class and shadowing, I’d feel confident working in a radiology department. It’s allowed me to experience every part of day-to-day work, whether it’s filing, paperwork, CT-Scans, or MRIs.  Everything that they do during the day is what we did,” comments Kelly.

Between visits to the hospital, students are also given classroom time to reflect on their time with healthcare practitioners.

“Having an opportunity to unpack the experience is extremely useful,” says Kayla Rockwell, anatomy class teaching assistant and a volunteer at Red Cloud. “They’re exposed to a wide range of medical professions, topics and questions. Having a structured time to write about what they have learned allows them to internalize the opportunity and decide what is most interesting or most confusing, on a personal level, helping them to hone in on what field might best suit them.”

For Hudspeth, taking the class has reaffirmed her dream of becoming a nurse. “I enjoy working in the midwife and outpatient clinic. Being there allows me to work with patients directly, which I enjoy. It is why I want to become a nurse,” she shares.