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Students learn skills through simulation lab

| Thursday, June 20, 2013, 7:55 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport Area High School's Allied Health students pose at the district's Career and Technology Center with instructors Donna Maguire and Antonietta Stolic, at left, and McKeesport Hospital Foundation executive director Michele Matuch and school director Tom Maglicco.

Combining a spring field trip with grant-funded resources, Allied Health students at McKeesport Area Career and Technology Center will gain practical skills through health care simulation.

Nearly 20 Allied Health students visited Edinboro University in April to tour nursing classrooms and a simulation lab. That experience not only began brewing thoughts of post-secondary education, but it gave students a sneak preview on the type of simulation models they will use in the 2013-14 academic year.

The Allied Health program focuses on practical and academic skills related to health and technology. Three days are spent in the classroom and two are spent at UPMC McKeesport.

Thanks to a federal Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act grant, the school purchased a SimMan that will be used to teach patient care in the classroom. While touring Edinboro with Dr. Terri Asterino, students saw the fascinating SimMan tools in action.

“It was really cool,” incoming senior Samantha Luketic said. “She walked us through the lab and saw all of the Sim dolls. It was a good place to consider for college, because they have a lot to offer nursing students.”

Allied Health instructor Antonietta Stolic said the Edinboro trip was a success, giving students insight on Sim models for specialized prenatal, infant, child and adult care.

“It was a great opportunity to see simulation, which is not easy to see around here,” Stolic said. “It was also a unique experience for many students who had never been anywhere overnight.”

Donna Maguire, the Allied Health students' nurse liaison at UPMC McKeesport, said she had no patient contact until she began a nursing program after high school.

“This early experience is beyond remarkable,” Maguire said. “To allow a student to be in the room with a patient is invaluable. They're years ahead.”

Patty Scales, director of the Career and Technology Center, said it's important to expose high school students who are interested in health care to a variety of medical jobs.

“The paradigm for health care is more than doctors and nurses,” Scales said. “We have a real world workforce partnership with UPMC, and the offshoot of that has been health care awareness. We are enhancing the workforce for the hospital and the community.”

The Allied Health program was formed in 1999 with a grant from McKeesport Hospital Foundation to facilitate apprenticeships at UPMC McKeesport. With many Allied Health students joining the Leos Club, a youth extension of the community health-focused Mon River Fleet Lions Club, their exposure to health care work and community service has increased further.

“We support the development of our youth by exposing them to all of the things happening in health care today in Allegheny County, throughout Pennsylvania and across the country,” said Michele Matuch, executive director of McKeesport Hospital Foundation and a permanent board member of the Mon River Fleet Lions.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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