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High school students getting hands on medical experience at Rapides Regional

In recent years, the health care profession has become much more critical, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 5:22 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2022 at 6:11 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - In recent years, the health care profession has become much more critical, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rapides Regional Medical Center has participated in the Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center Program, or AHEC for short, for the last six years to be able to give high school students a head start in the medical field.

This year, 12 high school students from Grace Christian, Bolton, Tioga, Holy Savior Menard, Glenmora, Rapides and homeschool are getting hands-on experience at the hospital.

“Some of the things I have been able to do is go through CPR, go through trauma, and I saw them do a dressing on somebody’s arm,” said Anthony Ugokwe, a senior at Menard. “I see why it is so hard and demanding, so it is definitely making me think more about what I want to do.”

Ugokwe and his sister, Chelsea, are both in the three-week-long summer program. Their dad is a neurologist over at RRMC, so for them, it is like following in their family’s footsteps.

“I have learned from him that every patient is different, and you just have to be on the same level as them,” said Chelsea Ugokwe, a sophomore at Menard.

For the students in the program, this training is the first step to fulfilling their dream of being in the medical field.

“I always knew I wanted to be a doctor, but I did not know specifically what I wanted,” said Anjana Danivas, a junior student over at Bolton.

The goal of the AHEC program is to give students experience by visiting 19 different departments at the hospital, including the cancer center, surgery, labor and delivery and more.

Brandi Laroux BSRT, RDMS, RVT is the radiology manager at RRMC who participated in the AHEC program back when she was a student. She said the lessons she learned convinced her to pursue a medical degree and come back to work locally.

“When I was in the program, I was able to see nursing, radiology, labs and surgery,” said Laroux. “My desire changed just being able to have that experience at a level of high school.”

The AHEC program takes place every year during the summer and is available for students in grades 9-11.

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