ASCC-ASAHEC Introduces High School Students to Health Care Professions
September 3, 2014
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
The American Samoa Area Health Education Center (ASAHEC), a program of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) concluded its Summer Health Academy 2014 earlier this month, with ten high school students receiving an in-depth introduction to the various aspects of health care. ASAHEC Director Ms. Sailitafa Samoa explained that one of the Center’s objectives is to increase the awareness in health care professions among high school students, and that this summer’s Academy participants benefitted from the involvement of numerous local professionals.
ASAHEC chose ten students for the two-week academy based on their applications and an essay explaining their interest in the health care field. Successful applicants included three from Tafuna High School, two from Samoana, two from Manu’a High School, and one each from Fagaitua, Leone, and South Pacific Academy. The diverse Academy agenda included introducing the students to the current concept of health, exploring the concept of “tausimatua” in the Samoan culture, studying aging and Alzheimer’s disease, building leadership skills, and observing a typical day’s work for health care professionals. Students also learned about promoting healthy lifestyle habits, identifying goals for the next school year, and formulating a career pathway for their own future.
The first week of the Academy began with a tour of the Department of Health in Faga’alu, led by Miss Leiema Hunt, NCD Assistant Coordinator. Participants met and spoke with Dr. Joseph Tufa, the DOH Medical Officer; Mrs. Moira Wright, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program Coordinator; and Mr. Faaloia Roy Mulitalo of the Sexually Transmitted Disease Program. They also had a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act orientation at LBJ Hospital and a tour with Ms. Lori Fale, Coordinator of Special Services & Compliance. Other LBJ professionals sharing their knowledge included Dr. Annie Fuavai, Deputy Medical Director; Dr. Paul Winkrantz, Radiologist; Dr. Amor Gonzales, who provided a tour of the medical laboratory; Dr. Evelyn Fa’ai’uaso of the LBJ Pharmacy; Dr. Ernest Oo of the Eye Clinic; Dr. Su Wong in the ENT Clinic; and Mrs. Simamao Tuato’o, LBJ Director of Nursing.
On the ASCC campus, Ms. Lele Ah Mu, of the ASCC Nursing Program shared some of the fundamental skills of the profession. The students also heard from guest speakers Dr. Shisram Shisram of the LBJ Psychiatry Department and Mrs. Lesley Penitusi, the LBJ Medial Social Worker. Next, each participant was assigned to an LBJ healthcare professional of their choice to shadow for a day. Doctors who agreed to mentor students included Dr. James Marrone, Pediatrician; Dr. MaIvy Clemente, Pathologist and Dr. Kolinio Niumataiwalu of the LBJ Operating Room; Dental Hygienist Mr. Fred Thompson and Dental Manager Mrs. Esther Lefiti; and RN, Mrs. Olita Tafiti, RN, of the Dialysis Unit. The remaining students shadowed nurses in the Surgical, Medical, and Obstetrics and Gynecology wards.
In the second week, the Academy students visited Hope House; meeting with Mrs. Cecilia Solofa, RN retired, before each student was assigned a resident to spend the day with. Next, individual students again shadowed healthcare professionals, including Dr. Sean Stracensky at the Tafuna Health Center; Dr. Talifa Talifa Jr. of Tafuna Health Center Dentistry; Mr. Doug Jessop in the DOH IT Department, and Dr. Malo Tuiolosega at his private clinic in Malaeloa. Guest speakers included Mr. Travis Fleming, dietician and nutritionist with ASCC Community and Natural Resources, and John A. Burns School of Medicine medical students Nash Witten and Erika Ho. ASCC student Miss Ruta Ropeti shared her experiences from the Future Public Health Leaders Program, an internship she attended earlier this summer at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
On the final day of the Academy, four students participated in a display expedition at LBJ. For their visual representations, Isidro Balza chose the topic of Athletic Trainer; Rejoyce Saega’s subject was Pneumonia, inspired after being with Dr. Marrone and seeing a lot of children with the sickness; Seine Poloai’s topic was Diabetes; and Pauline Vaivao chose Ear Infection after working in the ENT Clinic with Dr. Su Wong. They also assisted with height, weight and blood pressure measurements during a health screening that morning. The Academy ended with a fieldtrip to the Healing Garden in Leone and the village of Amanave.
ASAHEC Director Samoa summed up this year’s Academy as “a collaborative effort by the local healthcare leaders to increase high school interest in careers in healthcare.” Over time, she explained, ASAHEC has fine-tuned its Academy to make it rewarding for the participants. “This year we added the shadowing, the session with ASCC Nursing, and the visits to Hope House and Dr. Tuiolosega’s Clinic,” she said. In addition to the many health care professionals who lent their time to the Academy, Ms. Samoa also thanked ASCC student volunteers Melanie Vaiolo, Shekinah Leota, Michael James Sword-Curry, and Tau Godinet-Ve'ave'a for their assistance and support. For more information on ASAHEC, call 699-1587.