Category Archives: Health Careers Education

CareerTech Essential to Meet Workforce Needs

A qualified workforce is critical to the state’s economic well-being and will be vital to its recovery following the pandemic. Oklahoma CareerTech, which has long been a major component of Oklahoma’s economic engine, will play a starring role in this recovery.

Through a network of 399 PK-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 13 skills center sites and 32 adult basic education providers, the strengths of Oklahoma’s CareerTech System include accessibility and flexibility.

Through partnerships with business and industry, Oklahoma CareerTech has responded quickly to the state’s immediate workforce needs by providing customized career training in a wide range of industries, including health care, agriculture, aerospace and energy.

Read more in CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack’s guest column in The Journal Record.

Oklahoma HOSA members, advisers recognized

Three Oklahoma HOSA advisers were recognized as Outstanding Local Advisers at the virtual HOSA International Leadership Conference.

Receiving the honor were Bobbie Sue Joslin, Wes Watkins Technology Center; Paula Estrada, Central Technology Center; and Lulla Wilson, Emerson Middle School in Oklahoma City.

Also at the conference, Julia Lewis, Indian Capital Technology Center, received a HOSA Hero Award for performing CPR and helping save a man’s life. David Kelly, former Oklahoma HOSA state president and HOSA national president, received a Distinguished Alumni Service Award.

In the Anatomage competition at the conference, Super Baguettes from Tulsa Technology Center’s biomedical sciences high school extension program at Union High School placed third, and Team Rads for Life from Metro Technology Centers’ radiologic technology program placed fourth. This was Oklahoma HOSA’s first time to compete in the Anatomage event at the International Leadership Conference.

In competitions, Oklahoma HOSA members received three first places, four second places, five third places, four fourth places, six fifth places, five sixth places, three seventh places, two eighth places, one ninth place and three 10th places and had one person in the top 10 for the secondary health care issues exam.

Oklahoma HOSA was recognized for being the state with the highest combined volunteer hours for the HOSA service project, Be The Match. Oklahoma HOSA also won the Barbara James Service Award with 4,518.65 hours of community service.

CareerTech Champions

Julie Smiley Foster – FFA, HOSA and STEM

CareerTech instructor transitioned from blue coat to white coat.

THEN: The first female to become a national FFA officer. Julie Smiley Foster was a high school student in Mount Vernon, Washington, when she enrolled in agricultural education and joined her local FFA chapter. FFA is the CareerTech student organization aligned with agricultural education.

It was there she learned numerous life skills from her instructor and chapter adviser. That was back in the 1970s, but Smiley Foster still recalls how he coached her and helped her win the state’s public speaking contest.

“To be able to speak to people I know and don’t know, whether planned or unplanned, has been a gift,” she said.

It was a gift that kept giving after high school. A few weeks after graduation, Smiley Foster was elected FFA state president, the first female to serve in that capacity. It wasn’t her only first, however. She continued to shatter glass ceilings in college when she was elected Western Region vice president for the national organization – the first female to hold a national office.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism (with a double major in agriculture science and journalism) from Texas A&M University and a master’s in counseling from Midwestern State University.

In addition to helping run the family farm for more than two decades, Smiley Foster taught junior high and high school science. She said she uses many of the skills she gained from FFA both in and out of the classroom. In addition to public speaking, she learned

  • How to plan, organize and follow through to produce successful events.
  • The importance of saying thank you and the value of writing thank-you notes.
  • How to speak to adults in business and how to remember names.

NOW: A National Board Certified instructor at Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s Biosciences and Medicine Academy. She teaches biomedical innovation and honors anatomy and physiology. Smiley Foster is an adviser for HOSA Future Health Professions, the CareerTech student organization that aligns with health careers education.

“CareerTech education is hands-on, problem-solving, skills-based and how-to-get-a-job training,” she said. “My purpose is to prepare students for the marathon of acquiring a career as a health professional.”

She said the professionalism she learned in the ag classroom is also a big part of her biosciences classroom. Smiley Foster said she hopes she’s a bit like her FFA adviser, Mr. Howell, who required the best of his students.

Link to National FFA podcast celebrating Julie Smiley Foster as first national officer

CareerTech Champions

Julia Lewis – Indian Capital Technology Center

Tahlequah calls CareerTech student a hometown hero.

THEN: A high school junior, weighing her career options, Julia Lewis enrolled in the health careers certification program at Indian Capitol Technology Center in Tahlequah to learn about the various jobs in health care.

“I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” she said.

The Tahlequah High School student said she knew she liked helping people, but she wasn’t sure which career path to take. At Indian Capital, she

  • Learned how to stay calm in intense situations. (See links to stories below)
  • Developed time management and organizational skills.
  • Learned how to work independently.
  • Received certifications in phlebotomy, nursing assistant, CPR, AED and first aid.

The 17-year-old’s career path was reaffirmed this spring when she was called upon to save a man’s life. Riding downtown with her friends, Lewis saw a group of people surrounding a man who was in distress.

“I didn’t think twice about getting out to help him,” Lewis said, adding that she got out of the car while it was still moving. The man wasn’t breathing, and Lewis immediately called 911 and then performed CPR until the paramedics arrived.

Lewis is being hailed as a hero and received an award from the Tahlequah Police Department. She also received the HOSA Hero Award during the group’s International Leadership Conference. HOSA is the CareerTech student organization for future health professionals.

NOW: The CareerTech program helped Lewis narrow her career plans within the health care field.  She is now a certified nursing assistant and phlebotomist., and plans to become a dentist or dental hygienist.

Her instructor, Andrea McElmurry, described Lewis as bold, brave, and mature beyond her years. She added that Lewis strives to do her best in every situation.

“She has a bright future ahead of her, and I know she will accomplish her goals,” McElmurry said.


Related content:

Lewis commended on Fox 23 News 

Facebook video of Police Chief Nate King honoring Lewis

Indian Capital Technology Center surg tech student Ciarra Towry awarded a national scholarship

Ciarra Towry, Indian Capital Technology Center surgical technology student

Ciarra Towry, Indian Capital Technology Center Surgical Technology student, was awarded a national student scholarship from the ARC/STSA (Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting) Scholarship Program. Only 10 students nationwide received the $500 scholarship.

ICTC Superintendent Tony Pivec said, “We want to congratulate Ciarra on this tremendous honor. The fact that only 10 students nationwide receive this scholarship says a lot about her qualifications for this award.” ICTC Board of Education Vice-President Tom Stiles said, “On behalf of the ICTC Board, I want to commend Ms. Towry for her academic excellence. This is a great achievement.”

The Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA) is committed to advancing surgical technology and surgical assisting education for individuals entering and working within the professions. The ARC/STSA Scholarship Program is designed to assist AST or ASA student members pursuing their education in CAAHEP-accredited surgical technology or surgical assisting programs.

CTSO officers attend CareerTech University

Oklahoma CareerTech student organization state officers recently attended CareerTech University at Camp Tulakogee in Wagoner, Oklahoma. Officers from all seven co-curricular CTSOs attended the conference, where they learned about goal-setting, time management, teamwork and presentation skills.

At CTU each year, officers participate in training sessions and group activities to help them lead their organizations. They also learn more about the Oklahoma CareerTech System during the event. CTU provides the student leaders an opportunity to come together and share ideas about how they can best represent the CareerTech System as a whole.

CareerTech Champions

ShiAnne Farris — Northwest Technology Center and HOSA

THEN: ShiAnne Farris didn’t choose between college and CareerTech — she chose both. And that was just the beginning. Farris was a junior at Alva High School when she took the first step toward her career goal of becoming a doctor, enrolling in Northwest Technology Center’s health careers program. At Northwest Tech, she

  • Learned baseline medical knowledge.
  • Served as a state officer in HOSA, the CareerTech student organization associated with health careers.
  • Networked with peers and gained valuable leadership skills
  • Received numerous certifications, including certified nurse aide, certified medication aide and massage therapy.

After high school, Farris went to Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing degree in 2013. But even that wasn’t her end goal. Far from it. A few years later, Farris returned to NWOSU to work on prerequisites for medical school. She was accepted to the Oklahoma State University School of Medicine in 2019 and expects to graduate in 2023. After that, Farris expects to have three or four years of hospital residency.

In addition to school, Farris has worked as a CNA, CMA, nurse and registration clerk at Share Medical Center and Alliance Health. She is on the rural medicine track and plans to return to Alva to practice medicine. With a stubbornness that became a fierce determination, according to her instructor at Northwest Tech, Farris has faced – and conquered – a series of tough challenges.

NOW: She drives three hours home to Alva on weekends to spend time with her 6-year-old daughter and 16-month-old son. As she works toward becoming a doctor of osteopathic medicine specializing in either emergency or family medicine, Farris said she schedules every second of her day — her showers, study time and even the time she makes phone calls. Farris said she believes it is never too late to go after what you want.

“It’s okay to be stubborn. Never let anyone tell someone they can’t do something.”

ShiAnne Farris – medical student and mother

CareerTech Champions

Kaydee Clark – Tulsa Technology Center and HOSA

CareerTech in high school gave this student-turned-instructor a way to pay for college.

THEN: One of three latchkey siblings with a single mom who worked two jobs to pay the bills. While her mother struggled to take care of the family and put food on the table, Kaydee Clark said, she was fighting battles of her own. Plagued with multiple health issues, she was in and out of health care facilities throughout high school.

Even though Clark’s mother worked hard, she couldn’t come up with college money for Clark or her siblings. Her brother and sister joined the military, but Kaydee needed to find a career. One of her mother’s jobs was medical assisting, and Clark’s health care experiences had made her realize she, too, had a passion for helping others.

Like mother, like daughter — the high school senior enrolled in Tulsa Technology Center’s medical assisting program. She joined HOSA, the CareerTech student organization affiliated with health careers education. HOSA and Tulsa Tech helped Clark

  • Develop the ability to prioritize and become organized.
  • Pass the board exams for medical assisting and phlebotomy.
  • Learn leadership skills and the value of teamwork.
  • Improve her communication and problem-solving skills.
  • Develop a strong work ethic and resiliency.

Clark watched her mom work hard to get ahead, advancing to vice president of a popular health insurance organization. Clark had the same strong work ethic, and in 2004, she graduated from Tulsa Tech and began working as a medical assistant. She met her future husband at an urgent care center, where he was a patient.

After Clark became pregnant with their third child, she made a career change, accepting a grant-funded teaching job at her alma mater. After that job ended, she was offered a full-time teaching job with Tulsa Tech’s high school medical assisting program, the same program she sat in as a high school senior. It was that program that helped her get a job, and it was that job that gave her the resources to continue her education.

“I would not have been able to attend college later in life if I hadn’t learned a trade,” she said. “CareerTech equipped me with the ability to work and make money to support myself and my family.”

NOW: A member of the Oklahoma State University President’s Leadership Society, working toward a degree in psychology and school counseling and maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Clark said she’s never leaving CareerTech.

“Even if I became a doctor,” she said, “my clinic would be staffed with Tulsa Tech students.”

“There is so much opportunity in CareerTech, and I am a product of it.”

Kaydee Clark, CareerTech instructor and OSU college student

Metro Tech announces new human cadaver lab

New human cadaver lab at Metro Tech offers training to first responders

A new human cadaver program at Metro Tech will offer training to first responders. Officials announced that Metro Tech is the first Oklahoma technology center to house a human cadaver lab program. On Mar. 31, over 40 first responders from Oklahoma’s Emergency Medical Services, Lawton Fire Department, Metro Tech health students and Great Plains Technology Center paramedic students practiced lifesaving skills on two human cadavers at the Springlake Campus located at 1900 Springlake Drive in Oklahoma City.

Metro Tech partnered with the University of Oklahoma’s College of Medicine and their Willed Body Program to host classes using donated human bodies. Utilizing human cadavers for medical training provides students with an exceptional learning experience and improved understanding over manikins alone.

Superintendent and CEO Aaron Collins said, “21st Century skills are created when partnerships come together serving a larger purpose. This is a great example of how we are helping our students and first responders in our state get real life training.”

Bill Justice is Deputy Chief of Special Operations for EMSA. As coordinator of the cadaver-procedure lab, Mr. Justice said, “We reached out to partner with Metro Tech to host the lab. Due to COVID, other cadaver labs were unavailable and remained limited to only full-time students.” He said, “By Metro Tech hosting this program, it will allow first response agencies to train on a more regular basis and allow individuals to obtain required skill checks for multiple levels of certification.”

The critical lifesaving skills taught were basic and advanced management of airway intubation, chest decompression, intraosseous (IO) vascular access and bleeding control techniques such as tourniquets, wound packing and compression dressing application. Brad Smith, instructor and physician assistant (PA) assigned to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Special Operations said, “EMSA recruits must complete the skills portion of the training before completion of their program. So, the ability to have a human cadaver lab ready to train in makes a world of difference.”

Smith received his training from the University of Oklahoma Physician Assistant Program in 2001, followed by adult trauma and pediatric trauma at OU Medical Center and has worked in Emergency Medicine for 15 years. Smith said, “There is no substitution for cadaveric tissue in critical skills training.” 

Jason Lankford, a critical care paramedic and now an adult instructional coordinator at Metro Tech said, “There are only a few universities that have this type of cadaver procedure lab. Mr. Justice with EMS and OU has been the driving force to make this possible. He is an excellent resource and we are proud to partner with him to offer this training at Metro Tech.”

This new lab will be used to enhance Metro Tech’s full-time health programs and offer a wide variety of specific one-day workshops to first responders who are paramedics, specialized law enforcement teams such as SWAT and the military. Lankford said, “We look forward to all of the possibilities this will provide our students, first responders and medical professionals in preparation of serving our communities.”

 Metro Tech’s original goal for a human cadaver lab was to customize one training event per quarter. However, based on interest, the frequency may change to once per month. For customized training, contact Jason Lankford at 405-595-4660 or Jason.lankford@metrotech.edu.

For More Information Contact:                                       

Cathy Story                                                                       
Public Information Officer                                                 
Metro Technology Centers                                                 
405-595-4403

CareerTech Champions

Jessica Garvin – FCCLA and Red River Technology Center

Nursing home administrator gives back to her community through FCCLA

THEN: She wasn’t planning a career, she just wanted sewing skills. Jessica Garvin said she learned to sew at Marlow High School, but the family and consumer sciences education program taught her much, much more.

Garvin joined Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, the CareerTech student organization affiliated with family and consumer sciences. Participation in FCCLA’s job interview competitions helped Garvin

  • Speak more eloquently in public.
  • Gain leadership and management skills.
  • Become better organized.
  • Interview new employees in her job as chief operations officer at a nursing home.

She said she also met incredible, lifelong friends in FCCLA, including fellow officers, advisers and classmates.

FACSED was Garvin’s only CareerTech experience in high school, but years later she said she wishes she had enrolled in a technology center program while she was there.

“I realize now what types of opportunities I missed by not taking advantage of CareerTech education in school!” she said.

Garvin did take advantage of CareerTech’s offerings after high school, attending Red River Technology Center in Duncan to get her medication administration technician certification, part of her journey toward her long-term administrator’s licenses.

She doesn’t make her living sewing, but Garvin’s involvement with FCCLA continues today. She helps students prepare for competitive events, and she mentors them through high school.

“Giving back to my community has improved my quality of life by providing opportunities for me to pay it forward,” she said.

NOW: A University of Oklahoma graduate, Garvin is COO at Gregston’s Nursing and Rehab in Marlow, Oklahoma. As an employer, she said, she understands the value of a CareerTech background.

“We utilize CareerTech graduates every day,” she said. “So many of them are wonderful, hardworking professionals with a strong work ethic and a desire to improve the lives of the people they serve.”

“I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today without FCCLA.”
Jessica Garvin
Nursing home COO

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