April 12, 2018

The Texas A&M Coastal Bend Health Education Center’s Health Careers Program hosted its 16th annual Future Health Professionals Conference on Tuesday, April 10, at Texas A&M International University for area high school students to give them insight into various health care professions.

“We want students to take advantage of the knowledge given by the conference speakers,” said Nancy Cipriano, program coordinator for the Health Careers Program. “These professionals can show high schoolers what it’s really like to work in the health care field.”

The conference, which hosted about 140 students from five local schools, aims to spark high school students’ interests in health care professions, especially career paths that are in high demand across the state.

Along with helping students navigate their way through the maze of schools, fields of study and compensation for various professions, Health Careers encourages students who live in medically underserved rural areas to consider returning to their hometown after graduating.

“We hope students will be inspired to pursue a career that excites them and that they will stay in, or return to, their community to practice,” Cipriano said.

After participating in morning breakout sessions, students made their way to the lawn between the Zaffirini Success Center and Center for the Fine and Performing Arts for a “disaster drill.” First responders, such as the Laredo Fire Department and Border Patrol, were on-scene to demonstrate the assessment of disaster victims for burns, amputations and smoke inhalation.

Some students played “victims,” complete with simulated injuries on their face, arms and legs.

“When the rest of the kids come out here,” said a border patrol officer to the “injured” students, “I want you all to really ‘sell it’. Act the way a person with your type of injure would act.”

After the “victims” got in place, groups of students filed out into the courtyard to view the first responders at work. The responders showed students how to assess injuries, even evaluating the “severely injured” to make the determination if treatment was a viable option.

The “victims” were taken to a makeshift triage unit under the Laredo Fire Department tent where responders showed the students how to further evaluate injuries.

Finally, the students observed how medical professionals would treat various injuries in the “ER,” which was set up under the Health South Texas canopy.

“We accomplished a major feat with this event because of all the amazing members from the local communities,” said Cipriano. “It was a wonderful day for those who participated.”

-Les Cockrell