Coon Rapids HS launches biomedical specialty program

To help meet the growing demand for healthcare workers, a biomedical program at Coon Rapids High School (CRHS) is the latest entry into Anoka-Hennepin’s successful specialty school.

It will use curriculum developed by Project Lead the Way (PLTW).

The program, coordinated by Leah Sams, is the third biomedical program at a high school in the metro area and the first in the northern suburbs.

“We want students to get involved with the biomedical program because there are so many students who can be successful in this program,” Sams said.

“We will provide biomedical program students individual counseling and a program that suits them.

“This is especially helpful because the biomedical field is very broad. We will always encourage math and science courses regardless of each student’s academic ability.

“The biomedical field offers really great careers with schooling from technical colleges and those pursuing any post-secondary degree.

“We want all students to see that they are college-ready and career-ready. The biomedical program will be our (CRHS) claim to fame.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2010 to 2020, biomedical careers are projected to grow at a rate of 62 percent, which is much faster than the average job growth rate of 14 percent.

Biomedical careers cover numerous disciplines including biology (nursing, biochemist), medicine (pharmacology, animal sciences), engineering (biomedical, applied engineering) and biomedical technician (manufacturing, equipment specialist).

The field also creates jobs in data management, patent law and medical writing and editing.

CRHS is an excellent choice for the biomedical program because it already offers concurrent classes with Anoka-Ramsey Community College, according to Sams.

Through concurrent classes, students earn both high school and college credits, Sams said.

Students earn the college free of charge to them and their families, she said.

Additionally, Minnesota is a hub for medical companies with future job opportunities available at Medtronic, Boston Scientific, CentraCare Health Systems, United Health Care, Mercy Hospital and the Mayo Clinic, according to Sams.

As a hands-on program that is technology driven, three CRHS classrooms will be renovated for the classes, Sams said.

Thirty-five “very fast” computers have been ordered; even the technology staff was in awe of the computers purchased, she said.

Students will enroll in the biomedical program through their regular registration forms in January.

The program is open to all District 11 students.

Students not in the CRHS attendance area can apply for an in-district transfer; students outside of the Anoka-Hennepin School District can apply for open enrollment.

The school district has petitioned for the program to be added to the Northwest Suburban Integration School District.

If the proposal is accepted, free transportation will be available to students outside of the CRHS and Anoka-Hennepin boundaries.

In its first year, the program will offer “Principles of Biomedical Sciences” for ninth- and 10th-grade students.

Over the next three years, PLTW’s “Human Body Systems,” “Medical Interventions,” and “Biomedical Innovation Capstone Course,” will be added to complete the biomedical program by the 2016-17 school year.

The biomedical program will also include a variety of elective, math and science classes.

Studies show that PLTW students achieve significantly higher scores in reading, mathematics and science in high school and earn higher grade-point averages as freshmen in college, according to Sams.

Like students who take Advanced Placement (AP) classes, students in the biomedical program will have an opportunity to take tests on the work they did in high school that can be translated into college credits, Sams said.

If the student’s college of choice applies the test scores toward college credit, students do not have to pay for these credits providing a cost savings for students and families, she said.

The biomedical program will host an open house Monday, Dec. 3 from 6 to 7 p.m.

CRHS is located at 2340 Northdale Blvd. N.W., Coon Rapids.

Anyone who is unable to attend the open house can contact Sams at 763-506-7359 or [email protected] or go to

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