YPSILANTI – It was an unusual request, one it’s safe to say Jacob Ooms hadn’t heard in any of his high school classes before.
“Your assignment is to take the parts on the table in front of you and assemble a prosthetic leg,” said Wendy Beattie, clinical and program director of the Eastern Michigan University Orthotics and Prosthetics Master’s program.
Ooms and his partner set about building the leg, working with artificial knee joints, a foot, a calf pylon and other associated parts.
Ooms was one of about 120 students who visited Eastern Friday, May 17 for the
Second Annual “Healthcare Next Generation, Event for Youth Career Exploration,” a collaboration between the EMU College of Health and Human Services and the Plymouth Canton School District and the Canton Chamber of Commerce.
The students took part in sessions in the Marshall Building, home of the CHHS, along with the Warner Building, and the Rackham Building, which houses a variety of health care programs such as exercise science, orthotics and prosthetics and dietetics.
The students are currently in either the health occupations or the biomedical track at their Plymouth school. After a trip to Beaumont Hospital Friday morning, they came to Eastern, where they observed various career pathways, illustrated by a variety of hands-on activities. The students also toured the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital patient simulation facility, where Eastern conducts a yearly exercise in patient care collaboration among students in various health care disciplines.
The Plymouth students participated in four hands-on learning sessions overseen by EMU faculty and students and also had lunch on campus. The activities included athletic training, dietetics, exercise science, orthotics and prosthetics, occupational therapy, public health/health administration/health education, social work, sport management and therapeutic recreation.
“This is a chance to experience a variety of different careers and see with our own eyes what all the health career options are,” Ooms said. “This is more hands on than what we learn back in class, and we can see what’s going on (in various careers).”
Among those supervising the students was Mackenzie Gilmore, a recent graduate from the master’s program in orthotics and prosthetics who’s set to begin a residency program in Oklahoma City.
“There’s so much more to health care professions than being a nurse of a doctor,” Gilmore said, noting one of the key takeaways of the day.
Many of the activities were highly hands on, including a chance to measure your standing broad jump, your vertical jump and your lower back and hamstring muscle flexibility in the exercise science learning experiences.
“We want these students to have some fun in these activities (along with learning),” said Becca Moore, a professor of exercise science.
In the occupational therapy area, students covered one eye and used just one arm in preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a vivid demonstration of the training needed in helping those who’ve just suffered a stroke that paralyzed one side of your body.
Laura Kuzmick, a Career Technical Education in the Plymouth system who accompanied the students, spoke of the value of the visit, which lasted from mid-morning to shortly after 1 p.m.
“The biggest value is that these kids get to see what their future could look like,” she said. “This experience really opens their eyes and helps them see what a variety of careers could look like. This opens up so many more options.
“A variety of students have said they didn’t even know some of these programs existed, and also didn’t realize they are just down the road (at Eastern).”
About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, including various health care programs, visit the University's website.