High school students share health care passions in STEM fair


By Kate Hayden, khayden@charlescitypress.com

Seventeen sides of the health care industry were on display Friday morning in a student-led STEM-careers fair.

Students of Charles City High School’s Exploring Science Careers class had the option to explore anything in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields — but perhaps by serendipity, instructor Donna Forsyth’s class had a bonding interest in the vast medical field.

Students shadowed veterinarians, dentists, laboratory technicians and other medical field professionals outside of the classroom and presented their findings as part of their end-of-term project.

Forsyth also encouraged her students to research the education pathway they would need to build the STEM career they want. By Friday many students knew what classes, tuition payments and licensing boards they’d encounter on the way.

“Hopefully 10, 20, 30 years down the road I can move back to town, back to northeast Iowa and start my own physical therapy clinic,” said senior Dylan Salinas, who plans to become a physical therapist.

Salinas shadowed employees at Synergy Physical Therapy in Charles City, and valued how a physical therapist builds relationships with patients on a daily basis.

“That’s what I like most about it, is having the ability to build relationships throughout the community and being able to be an active member in a community somewhere,” Salinas said. “The class helped me become set-in-stone on physical therapy. Mrs. Forsyth’s done a great job giving us access into other shadowing opportunities.”

Senior Sadie Ruzicka shadowed surgeons through the class, but decided to focus her research for a career as a dermatologist physician’s assistant.

Dermatology P.A.s work with patients in caring for acne and skin cancer spot removals. During her job shadowing, Ruzicka was particularly impressed by techniques to minimize skin scarring.

“When I go to P.A. school I can choose to specialize in something, but I’m not sure what to specialize in. Maybe surgery, because that is really interesting to me,” she said.

Senior Dylan Parsons realized how much opportunity there is in nursing, he said.

“There’s so many options — I’ve always wanted to help people, and it’s what I want to do. There’s over 104 nursing specialties,” Parsons said. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities to shadow for this.”