Health science is an important subject for students to learn and recently Springfield Public Schools was approached by Mercy Hospital regarding a health science lab that would be the first of its kind. The new health science lab would be housed at the hospital and contain two full-time classrooms for the district to use. by the prospect of such an innovative teaching environment, the district did their research and couldn’t find another program like it to procure data from or base their decision on. In the end, education officials couldn’t pass up the amazing opportunity and the one-of-a-kind health sciences academy is on track to open in August 2014.

Two eighth-grade classrooms — with about 50 students — will create a school in a large working hospital.

Associate Superintendent Ben Hackenwerth said students will learn all aspects of the health care industry.

Springfield has numerous medical facilities and a lot of opportunities for jobs in health care and related fields, he said.

“One of our biggest needs going into the future … is having enough health care workers,” he said.

Jay Guffey, chief operating officer of Mercy Hospital Springfield, came up with the idea during a tour of the district’s Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility, or WOLF program.

Guffey saw parallels between the hands-on nature and conservation program the district created with Bass Pro Shops and the type of day-to-day learning experiences that students could gain in a hospital. He noted the hospital operates like “a little city” with its own security, maintenance, housekeeping and food service.

“I thought what a great learning environment that would be,” he said.

Guffey said while students interested in the medical field would likely be ideal candidates for the program, he hopes it will provide exposure to students who are undecided. He said a hospital system employs a wide range of people with different skills and interests.

“The health care environment is changing,” he said, noting students will have a front-row seat.

Logistics of the program

During the coming school year, the logistics of the program will be worked out and the second-floor classroom space in the hospital atrium will be renovated. Plans for that work are already taking shape.

Continue reading Mercy to be site of new ‘choice’ program for eighth-graders

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