A bedside view of nursing

Students from Clarkston High School toured the Walla Walla Community College’s Clarkston campus Tuesday and got a close-up look at the nursing program and its high-tech simulations.

A group of Clarkston High School seniors watched as two nursing students assessed a patient, taking his blood pressure and discussing his pain level with him.

The interaction went well, but the nursing students will kill a "patient" at some point in their first year, Walla Walla Community College instructor Stephanie Macon-Moore told the onlookers Tuesday.

And that's OK.

The "patient" was a high-tech mannequin in the simulation lab Macon-Moore coordinates at the school's Clarkston campus.

"It's to get the students to get into the role as a nurse," she said. "We don't want students to be afraid to make a mistake."

The real-world scenario in the mock hospital room appealed to many of the 15 CHS students visiting WWCC's Clarkston campus.

"This was our first time actually seeing this in person," Shaylynn LaBelle said. "It's more than just a lecture. It's more hands-on."

Pat Sobotta, who accompanied the high school students Tuesday, said that's the sort of insight he hopes the teens gain from campus visits.

Sobotta is the Clarkston High School site manager for the federal Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program - or G.E.A.R. U.P. - administered through Washington State University.

Together with CHS's community connections coordinator, Debbie Romesburg, Sobotta arranges events such as Tuesday's tour for students interested in nursing or health sciences.

"It definitely pulled me in a little more," senior Becky Schell said, noting she liked the hands-on approach to learning in the simulation lab.

Schell said she hopes to be the first in her family to earn a college degree.

"None of my family has actually been to college," she said. "Hopefully I can stay on the path that I see ahead of me, and I can finish it."

First-year nursing student Leilani Ronquillo of Garden Valley, Idaho , told the high-schoolers she has wanted to be a nurse since the seventh grade.

Her experience so far, Ronquillo said, has been encouraging.

"It's a team," she said of the nursing program participants. "Everyone's helping each other."

Health Science Education Coordinator Sue Rammelsberg addressed the students before they visited the lab, telling them the need for nurses in the workforce is only increasing.

After 38 years in various roles in the nursing profession, Rammelsberg said, she is one of many Baby Boomers approaching retirement.

"Not only are we retiring - the Boomers - we will be the patients," she said.

She said she hopes bringing high school students to the campus "to give them just a snapshot," can help spark interest, "because we need nurses."

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Stone may be contacted at mstone@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2244. Follow her on Twitter @MarysSchoolNews.

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