Hospitals partner for academy
Students get exposure to medical procedures, clinical rotations
FORT SMITH — Baptist Medical Plaza in Fort Smith is allowing more students to learn in a real-world medical environment by partnering with Darby Middle School’s Health Science Academy.
Baptist recently added medical classrooms for seventh grade students to attend classes and receive firsthand exposure to various medical careers, tour different parts of the hospital and observe clinical rotations.
Darby eighth graders get to attend similar classes in a Mercy Hospital classroom.
A Fort Smith School District news release stated the Health Science Academy is exclusively available to its district. Students attend the classrooms for half a day Monday through Friday.
Shari Cooper, the district’s director of communications, clarified while the partnership is with Darby, any Fort Smith middle school student may apply for the program.
According to the district’s website, the Health Sciences Academy has project-based and hands-on learning designed to accelerate students’ academics in math and science. The program also helps students develop proper workplace skills, terminology, ethics and procedures for the ever-changing medical field by using an established curriculum from Project Lead The Way, the website states.
Darby Principal Jason Meharg said the level of rigor prepares students for careers and higher education opportunities in the medical field.
“The exposure that students gain by being in the hospitals is an invaluable experience unparalleled in any other middle school in Arkansas,” he said.
“When it comes to health care education, nothing beats hands-on learning,” said Ryan Gehrig, president of Mercy Hospitals Arkansas. “These students have been given a wonderful opportunity to explore so much about health care, and we hope these classes pique a lifelong curiosity in them. We appreciate Fort Smith Public Schools for creating this academy and look forward to working with these students throughout the school year.”
“Recruiting the next generation of skilled health care providers is always a focus for us,” said Jeff Carrier, region president of Baptist Health. “So partnering with our public schools to engage students at a young age and get them passionate about all of the careers available to them in the medical field was a win-win. We are thankful Fort Smith Public Schools provides such an amazing experience for our kids.”