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Tanner Learning Lab at Haralson College and Career Academy Prepares Healthcare Students for the Workforce

Tanner Learning Lab logoThe new Tanner Learning Lab at Haralson County College & Career Academy is giving students aspiring to work in health care a head start with a clinical classroom experience.

With donations from Tanner, the school’s health science lab — now the Tanner Learning Lab — is outfitted with real-world medical equipment and nursing supplies, giving students hands-on training in the classroom.

Tanner Learning LabThe lab supplies, patient room and nurses’ station were installed earlier this year. They’re already giving students a leg-up and preparing them for a career in health care after graduation.

Traci White, LPN, the learning lab’s health science instructor and an alumnus of the Haralson County College & Career Academy, is a product of the school’s program herself and started her career as a nurse with the Carrollton Orthopaedic Clinic right after graduation.

Now an instructor in the program, she says the new installations are a great addition to a great program.

“I’m enjoying it, and the students are too,” said White. “It’s giving them a unique experience to prepare them to enter the workforce. They’re learning many skills I learned when I graduated from this program in 2006. Back then, we didn’t have access to the resources they have now, which gives them a huge advantage. It’s amazing to see how the program has grown, and I am very excited to see where it goes in the next couple of years.”

Students enter the program during their first year of high school and progress through their chosen pathway with each grade level.

Along the way, they learn the technical and soft skills it takes to be successful on the job.

“Early on, we focus a lot on success and employability skills — like interpersonal communication, work ethic, attitude and appearance,” said White. “Many of those skills are hard to teach once they are out of high school. I tell my students that once you get in the workforce, you can learn the skills for your job, but it’s harder to learn to be kind or compassionate, so those are the skills that we try to teach them now before they leave to take on a career.”

Haralson County College & Career Academy lets students explore more than a dozen career pathways for in-demand careers.

Students begin their journey taking introductory classes depending on which field they want to join, choosing a pathway that aligns with their interests — including medical fields like nursing, surgical technology, pharmacology, radiology, therapy and others.

Tanner Learning LabStudents train as they learn and can even receive certifications and finish some of their college prerequisites before graduation.

“The Academy introduces them to different pathways to see if that field is something they are interested in,” said White. “For instance, the CNA program is mandatory for most nursing programs, so if their goal is to be a nurse, they can complete their CNA certification for free before they graduate from high school, putting them ahead before they begin their college coursework.”

The new lab helps students train as real nurses, allowing them to see what it’s like to interact with patients.

“The nurses station Tanner installed helps students experience what the patient flow would look like in a real hospital or medical office,” said White. “And our patient room is equipped with things students would see in an actual patient room, where they can practice talking with patients and rounding the way they would in a real hospital.”

They’re also learning the more technical side of things.

“At our nurses’ station, students practice checking in on mock patients, taking their medical history, vital signs and blood pressure, performing wound care and learning to effectively communicate in the patient-care environment.”

Students also get the chance to hone the tone of their bedside manner.

“Using the boards Tanner supplied, they get a real experience with the flow in a patient room, too, helping them become more confident and knowledgeable when they see an actual patient,” said White.

Students round on a mock patient — the lab’s state-of-the-art simulation mannequin — the way they would in a hospital, knocking on the door, introducing themselves and filling out their information on the board.

Traci White, LPN, Hedi Ellis and Emma Burgess “It’s been a great benefit in helping them develop those interpersonal skills they’ll need when they begin work in the real world,” said White.

First-year students like 15-year-old Emma Burgess are taking the opportunity to learn as much as possible about all the healthcare careers available.

“I’m enjoying the program and have been learning much about health care,” said Burgess. “It’s great because I’m not sure what I want to do in health care, but I’m learning about all the different opportunities.”

Her classmate, 15-year-old Heidi Ellis, agrees and says that the experience is one of a kind.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to do something in health care, but I wasn’t exactly sure until I got into the program,” said Ellis. “Even as a freshman, I’ve already learned so much, like how to take somebody’s temperature, check their respiration, tie a suture and perform CPR.”

More information about the Haralson County College & Career Academy is at haralson.k12.ga.us.

To experience Tanner and learn about all the careers available, visit careers.tanner.org.