“Help! We need some help over here!”
Four bodies lie on the concrete floor – all bleeding, two seemingly unconscious. Clusters of white-shirted 14 and 15-year-olds cautiously approach. Across the room, nurses instinctively jerk to attention, primed to assist.
Luckily, this is just a demonstration.
Students from the Jackson Public Schools’ Academies of Jackson at Murrah High School have just arrived at the downtown Jackson Convention Complex for the Alignment Jackson Career Exploration Day. With the accident reenactment, instructors from the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Nursing give the freshman students a glimpse at what a day as a nurse might be like – better than any pamphlet ever could.
Kristi Wilson is one of three nursing instructors from the SON simulation lab on site to lead the students through the triage exercise. She arrived earlier than the high schoolers to apply moulage, or mock injuries, to the accident victims.
“Being the simulation department, we wanted to make it realistic for them so they can experience what it’s like to see patients at an accident site,” said Wilson. “They ride the school bus, so we ask, ‘What would happen if you were on a bus and you had a wreck?’ That’s what we do in the sim labs all the time to help prepare the nursing students.”
Triaging victims at the scene of an accident involves assigning a color to represent the urgency of injuries: green, yellow, red and black.
Victim number one is Ariel Wilbanks, a nursing student. Wilson determines that although she’s crying and is hurt, her only injuries are a laceration and some abrasions to her arm, not life threatening. This victim is put in the green category.
Next is Hannah White, a senior nursing student. She is lying on her stomach, and blood can be seen soaking through the back of her shirt.
“I pick up Hannah’s shirt and see she has a laceration to her back, abrasions to her arm and her knees,” said Wilson. “I determine she’s breathing, and I don’t see anything I’m concerned about right now. I would make her a yellow because her injuries are not life-threatening, and I can get back to her later.”
Tammy Dempsey, director of the Office of Community Engagement and Service Learning in UMMC’s Department of Academic Affairs, is the next victim. Her bloody leg has bone and tissue showing, and her face is marred with bruises.
“As I’m assessing Tammy, I see she has an open fracture,” said Wilson. “She also has blood coming from both sides of her ears, which would tell me that she probably has a brain or spinal injury.”
Wilson says the bruising on Tammy’s face points to a possible head injury as well. She is put in the red category and will be the first victim treated after the final victim, Patrick Reed, a fourth-year pharmacy student, is assessed. Unfortunately, Patrick is not breathing and has no pulse. He is determined to be dead and is assigned the color black.
Behind the scene of the accident there is a table with information about the School of Nursing manned by Josh Hardy, senior recruiter, Tara Rushing, admissions counselor, and Dr. Marilyn Harrington, associate professor of nursing and director of diversity and inclusion. Jarvis Banks, 14, has stopped by to ask some questions.
Banks says that his goals are to finish high school and go to college to get a nursing degree. “I like helping people, and I’m interested in medicine and stuff like that.”
His friend, Jazlynn Patrick, also 14, isn’t quite as sure of what career path she wants to pursue, but she knows she wants to work in health care. “I want to be anything in the medical field from anesthesiologist to a physical therapist, but a nurse would be even better.”
Rushing says that it is important to catch students early in their high school career to prepare them for the GPA and ACT requirements for entering into a career in nursing.
“A lot of kids don’t understand that their GPA and ACT scores follow them forever,” said Rushing. “After that first year, it’s exponentially more difficult to raise the GPA.”
Students who are interested in attending nursing school are encouraged to take biology, chemistry and algebra in high school.
“We tell them that nursing is a science and math heavy program,” said Rushing. “We encourage them to start learning the bones and muscles and to take Latin, if it is offered at their school, because medical terminology is Latin-based.”
Harrington says that her job as director of diversity and inclusion is to increase the minority enrollment in the nursing school.
“There’s research that says a patient does better when their medical team looks like them,” said Harrington. “They respect them more and trust them more. Trust is a big thing in African American population, particularly with males.”
Harrington says that in a society that still encourages females to be nurses and males to be physicians, it’s important to recruit all high-performing students into nursing.
“We have to make critical life decisions on a daily basis,” said Harrington. “We need highly-educated, intellectual people in nursing. They have to be able to independently critically think. I’m trying to change that a little bit at a time, breaking down those norms to attract students, in particular students of color.”
Representatives from the respiratory team at Batson Children’s Hospital were on hand to introduce students to the field of respiratory therapy. Director Driscoll DeVaul said that many students are not aware of what a respiratory therapist does. His goal was to let them know that respiratory therapy is another option for a career in the medical field.
The career fair is organized by Alignment Jackson in conjunction with The United Way. Alignment Jackson is a nonprofit organization formed in 2013 to leverage community resources to support JPS. Anthony Johnson is the executive director and one of the organizers of the career fair.
“It’s really about providing young people with an education experience that sparks their interest,” said Johnson. “Research on the academies model shows that academies help students with perseverance. If you know what you want to do at an earlier age, you are more successful. It’s about showing up for their dreams.”
Johnson said that the goal is to provide students with more opportunities and to train them to be great citizens. He said that this year’s career fair included an even better variety of exhibits than the year before. “UMMC had people lying on the floor in makeup. That’s taking it to the next level. That’s not handing them a pamphlet.”