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MHHS students get hands on simulated training at BRMC for unique internship program

“Code blue! Sim lab 3!”

Those are the words that Mountain Home High School students shouted at each during their first Code Blue training session at the Ed & Gayle Goodman Simulation Center at Baxter Regional Medical Center.

Alarms blared after Apollo, one of the two high-tech medical mannequins at the simulation center, notified the student nurses of his chest pains and difficulty in breathing.

Students rushed to set up the room in preparation for giving Apollo CPR, a skill they had just begun to learn one week before. They pulled the bed away from the wall and removed the headboard.

A crashcart holding a defibrillator and Ambu bag was unplugged from its position and wheeled into the room quickly. As they raced against the clock, students took turns giving CPR to their high-tech patient.

Students take turns performing CPR on Apollo the mannequin. Video by Chris Fulton/MHO.

From outside the room, students, who were often forced to climb into the bed to get the proper leverage to do CPR, could be heard panting as they each counted to 30 while pushing hard and fast on Apollo’s chest.

Those waiting for the turn in the CPR rotation offered assistance from the sidelines as they watched the monitor above the bed. After nearly 10 minutes of fighting, Apollo began to show life again as his monitor beeped along with a steady pulse.

The experience, recorded on video for classroom playback, was as close to the real thing as a person could get without entering an actual emergency room at a hospital, and the high schoolers had passed with flying colors.

“I think they did amazing,” said Sarah Brozynski, the hospital’s Director of Education. “You have to remember, they’ve never done this before. They’ve never been recorded before. And we actually saw that suspension of reality, and the evidence of that was, if you know you’re being recorded, people try to hide from the camera. Nobody hid. That’s how we know we effectively suspended reality.”

Mountain Home High School’s Medical Clinical Internship is a partnership effort between Baxter Regional and Mountain Home High School’s Career Academy.

The internship, which is available to seniors at the high school, focuses on providing students with both a classroom learning experience and a simulated lab experience to prepare them for a potential career in the healthcare industry.

Throughout the semester, students participate in three code blue’s, the term used for a patient that is no longer breathing, in preparation for participating in a mock trauma simulation at the end of the semester. Students also learn about labor and delivery through a mock birth, surgery, correctly donning protective equipment, and CPR. Each student receives their CPR certification at the end of the program.

There are currently 13 seniors participating in the internship. This semester marks a return to the full simulated experience after COVID-19 put a temporary halt to lab learning.

“All of the weekly experiences lead up to them being able to run a code blue independently,” said Tenille Rauls, Mountain Home High School’s anatomy and physiology teacher. “They’ll designate one student in a doctor’s position. One student is the resident therapist. One student as a phlebotomist, one is a nurse. All the different roles that health care providers play in a code blue.”

The internship is the brainchild of Alecia Czanstkowski, who was Mountain Home High School’s Career Academy Leader before her retirement.

The internship is now overseen by Rauls, who has spent much of her career as a nurse practitioner working with neurosurgeons in hospitals at Little Rock and Raleigh, North Carolina before teaching at Mountain Home High School. Her husband, Dr. Russ Rauls, works at Knox Orthopaedics in Mountain Home. She continues to work as a nurse part-time at Knox Orthopaedics as well.

Rauls also led The Call, a nonprofit focusing on foster children in Baxter County, for five years and assisted in getting the organization up and running. The Raulses have been foster parents to 15 children and have adopted two of the children that have come to their home. They have five children together.

“In Raleigh, I worked for Duke Raleigh Hospital and helped them open a neuro-ICU,” Rauls said. “That’s where I discovered my love for teaching.”

To join the internship at Baxter Regional, students must fill out an application form and have completed all of the prerequisite classes necessary to participate in the internship. The program has a max limit of 15 students per semester. Students can apply for either the fall or spring semester.

Students will participate in classes Tuesday and Thursday during the internship over the course of 16 weeks. An additional class is held every other Friday on campus at Mountain Home High School.

There are three weeks of prep work before students enter the simulation lab at Baxter Regional. Each student typically receives 20 unique experiences throughout the program.

“They’re not graded on their expertise,” Rauls said. “Their grade comes from the classroom participation in classroom activities. Every other Friday, we have class here at school.”

While attending classes at the hospital, students can expect to find themselves going back and forth between the hospital’s education building classroom and the simulation lab, which also features a classroom that allows students to watch the footage and receive play by plays of their performance in the lab.

At the hospital, classes are taught by education nurses Kelsey Gregory, Hannah Blasdel, Amanda Harvey, Amy Myers, and new addition Chris Austin. 

“This was their first time on the real mannequins, and they did awesome,” said Baxter Regional Education Nurse Kelsey Gregory. “A little bit of adjustment from a half one to a full-sized man, but they did awesome. Can’t wait to do their next one.”

Baxter Regional is an official Magnet recognized hospital and one of Baxter County’s largest employers.

The hospital center employs roughly 1,800 people, with over 180 unique primary care and specialist physicians, and covers an 11 county service area.

Both Mountain Home High School and Arkansas State University – Mountain Home offer scholarships and incentives for local students to get an education in the healthcare field through nursing and EMS programs.

“I would have given anything to be able to practice some of my skills on mannequins in a simulated lab to gain confidence,” Rauls said. “The skillset that our students are leaving with is second to none. I was so impressed, I wondered what other high schools in the United States have this program? The only other high school that has this opportunity is Boston Public Schools through partnerships with Harvard.”

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