‘It’s important that patients see themselves’: Rogers High School students receive medical training Friday
Feb. 24, 2023 Updated Fri., Feb. 24, 2023 at 10:28 p.m.
Taalisha Garrett scooted a stethoscope along the flank of a lifelike mannequin of an infant boy Friday afternoon, searching for breathing sounds.
When the Rogers High School sophomore found the rumbling in the chest, her eyes widened.
“Oh wow,” Garrett said. “That’s crazy.”
Garrett was among the two dozen students from Rogers attending a session at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center’s James W. Mounsey Clinical Simulation Lab on Friday. The event was a collaboration between the Spokane NAACP Health Committee, Providence Health Services and Spokane Public Schools to offer medical training to students of color and other groups underrepresented in medical fields.
The five simulation stations, many of which included the lifelike mannequins that could be attached to computer systems simulating pulses, oxygen levels and more, included pediatric nursing. When it was Garrett’s turn to perform resuscitation on a mannequin named “Caitlin,” her method earned praise from Anna Franklin, Providence’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion officer for the region.
“You have a nice compression technique,” Franklin said, as four of Garrett’s classmates looked on.
Franklin is an alumnus of Rogers who wasn’t introduced to medicine until she was in her 20s, she said.
“Knowing that I could help patients, in any way, that gave me a tremendous amount of joy in my life,” Franklin said. “I’m hoping that today’s interaction will inspire that same feeling with our students.”
Those sophomores, juniors and seniors present Friday had expressed some interest in a health care-related field, said Emily Gwinn, the college and career readiness facilitator at Rogers. Gwinn also observed as students cycled through stations teaching them skills in lab science, paramedics, respiratory therapy and surgical nursing, in addition to pediatrics.
Garrett said her mother had also worked in the health care field, but credited her praised compression technique to hours spent watching “Grey’s Anatomy” on TV.
“It was fun, because my mom is in the medical field,” Garrett said.
National trends show, however, that people of color make up a disproportionate segment of workers in medical fields. A January report from the Association of American Medical Colleges found that just 5.7% of doctors in the country identify as either Black or African American, despite 12.6% of the population identifying as either category. In addition, 6.9% of physicians identify as Hispanic. That’s compared to 18.9% of the total population.
Increasing diversity in health care leads to better care for everyone, Franklin said. It can also motivate students who may not believe they can complete medical training.
“It’s important that patients see themselves reflected in their care teams,” she said. “They feel that instinctive nature to trust, that instinctive nature to have that open communication, that instinctive nature to know that they’re being heard, feel that they’re being seen and that they feel safe in those sacred encounters.”
That’s also the reason the Spokane NAACP has pushed to provide opportunities in the medical and science and technology fields locally, said Lisa Gardner, first vice president of the local chapter.
“When you look at nursing fields, or engineers, or those who are working behind the scenes, seeing them, I think that gives ambition to those students,” Gardner said. “To know that they can reach for more than what they see in videos and social media.”
Gardner said the simulation lab was particularly helpful, because it provided students hands-on learning opportunities they might not otherwise receive in a classroom.
“It gives them that feeling of what does it look like, what does it feel like, and I can actually do this,” Gardner said.
Friday afternoon’s training was the first off-campus, in-person event for the group since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Franklin said they hope to provide even more opportunities for students in the future, “as often as we can.”
Garret said after her training session that she’d been thinking about working in ultrasound technology.
“It caught my eye, a little bit,” she said. “Now, I just need to find a good school to get into.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.