Ralston High School has long had a program teaching health sciences to students who may be interested in a career in medicine, but a new program launched this year combines classroom experiences with practical application.
Deb Ziegler, a nurse and teacher, has led that program for more than 30 years. There is a generation of nurses, CNAs, and physicians out there who came through her program.
This summer, Ziegler won the Nebraska state HOSA sponsor award, which the HOSA board then renamed in her honor. Later this summer, she also won a national Goodheart-Wilcox Outstanding Service Award.
This year, Ralston's launched Medical Academy under Ziegler's leadership.
"You have no idea what its all about until you can see it and you can smell it and you can experience it," Ziegler said.
"On A-days, we usually we are usually in anatomy and we do our anatomy class which is is an AP class tied with Metro, and then on B-days we're in here, and we are learning our skills and we're usually up and around every day in here," Larissa Prokop, a junior in the class explains.
During the course, students take anatomy classes their junior year, earn a CNA license, then continue classes their senior year while gaining hands-on experience through a partnership with CHI Bergan Mercy.
"To take a CNA class outside of high school currently costs right around five to six hundred dollars, and outside of school its pretty rigorous in that they do it in approximately six weeks," Ziegler says.
RHS also has an extra-curricular activity called HOSA, which engages future medical professionals outside the classroom as well. For Prokup, while she wants to be a oncology nurse, the benefit of the academy program is a universal skill regardless of her ultimate career choice.
"How to treat people respectfully, especially. I have always been mindful of that but with this class, I have really grown as a person so far," she said.