Biomedical sciences program at Coon Rapids High School

With biomedical science careers expected to grow at an explosive 62 percent in the next decade, students in Coon Rapids High School’s newly launched specialty program will have no problem soaring along with them.

Moving into her office Monday before students arrive for the new school year the following week, Coon Rapids High School’s biomedical sciences program coordinator Leah Sams reports that 160 students will take part in the program during its inaugural year. Photo by Sue Austreng

Moving into her office Monday before students arrive for the new school year the following week, Coon Rapids High School’s biomedical sciences program coordinator Leah Sams reports that 160 students will take part in the program during its inaugural year. Photo by Sue Austreng

With the start of the 2013-14 school year, the high school offers a four-year biomedical sciences program. Already 160 students are enrolled in that program, half of them freshmen.

“It’s really cool and the students are really excited about it – they’ll be using cutting edge technology that is used in the professional field. Here, in our classes, these students can learn things science is emerging on right now,” said Leah Sams, program coordinator for the high school’s biomedical program.

Classes include a progressive study of the principles of the biomedical sciences, human body systems, medical interventions and biomedical innovation during the four-year program.

“The biomedical field is huge … there is direct and indirect patient care from the cellular level all the way up,” Sams said. “Any student who is interested in becoming college and career ready in a field directly or indirectly involved with medicine should take these courses.”

According to Sams, the new high school biomedical sciences program has formed partnerships with Anoka Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College (which partners with St. Cloud State University).

Those partnerships serve as links toward success for the high school students enrolled in the biomedical sciences program, Sams said.

The program is part of Project Lead the Way (PLTW), which prepares students to be innovative and productive leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by providing engaging, hands-on courses in those areas.

While enrolled in Coon Rapids High School’s biomedical sciences program, students explore the concepts of human medicine and are introduced to topics such as physiology, genetics, microbiology and public health.

Through hands-on activities – like dissecting a heart –  students examine the processes, structures and interactions of the human body.

During the four-year program, students will also explore the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, working collaboratively to investigate and design innovative solutions to the health challenges of the 21st century.

“We’re hoping to open the students’ horizons by introducing them to the broad opportunities available to them,” Sams said.

Those opportunities include engineering, biology, pre-medicine and biomedical technology, as well as partnering careers like data management, patent law, medical writing or editing and forensics.

“The possibilities are so broad and we need health care professional people,” Sams said. “We’re living longer, disease and chronic conditions are diagnosed earlier, medicine continues to evolve …

“These students will be educated in the latest methods using the latest technology – they’ll be college or career ready when they complete the program here. It’s pretty cool.”

To learn more about Coon Rapids High School’s biomedical sciences program, contact Sams at Leah.Sams@anoka.k12.mn.us or 763-506-7359 or visit www.anoka.k12.mn.us; click on “visit our schools” and choose Coon Rapids High School.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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