Autry training next generation of health care employees

Eufemia Didonato

Feb. 27—ENID, Okla. — Autry Technology Center bills itself as the “healthcare hub of northwest Oklahoma,” offering three full-time health science career training programs for high school students and adults and five advanced medical classes for adults only. “It is important that we are training our students to go to […]

Feb. 27—ENID, Okla. — Autry Technology Center bills itself as the “healthcare hub of northwest Oklahoma,” offering three full-time health science career training programs for high school students and adults and five advanced medical classes for adults only.

“It is important that we are training our students to go to work right here in our community,” said Brady McCullough, CEO and superintendent of Autry Technology Center. “We make sure our students are fully prepared to enter the workforce by focusing on technology and hands-on training.”

Autry’s health science programs combine classroom experience and training in clinical settings, allowing students to learn the job skills they will need to be sucessfully employed in the medical field.

Health-related, full-time programs for high school and adult students are:

—Clinical medical assisting: Students learn multiple skills to work as health professionals primarily in settings such as medical offices and clinics. Skills learned may include measuring patients’ vital signs, recording medical history, preparing examination rooms, disinfecting medical instruments, drawing blood, giving injections and administering medication. A work-site learning component is available to students as is practice in a variety of settings chosen by the instructor.

—Dental assisting: Students study head and neck anatomy, tooth identification and morphology, dental terminology, infection control and instrumentation. Several chair-side procedures are practiced in the classroom and lab, including digital and manual x-rays, impressions, study models, dental charting, suctioning and passing instruments.

—Health careers: This program offers an overview of health careers while teaching basic health care skills and laboratory techniques that can lead to employment. The combination of theory, laboratory skills and clinical observations is designed to allow students to experience the health care field firsthand. High school students can earn an anatomy credit and choose to complete the curriculum needed to test for certification.

Classes available only to adult students are:

—Practical nursing: Clinical and classroom experience covers all aspects of nursing necessary for completion of the national licensing exam for the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). An LPN is trained to provide routine nursing care and perform more complex tasks only under the supervision or direction of a registered nurse, licensed physician or dentist.

—Respiratory care: This course trains students interested in becoming respiratory therapists to work with patients experiencing respiratory or cardiopulmonary problems. A respiratory therapist is proficient in the therapeutic use of medical gases, humidification, mechanical ventilation, artificial airways, chest physiotherapy and CPR.

—Surgical technology: This course trains students interested in becoming surgical technologists, a member of a surgical team who handles instruments, supplies and equipment necessary during the surgical procedure and has an understanding of the procedure being performed, anticipates the needs of the surgeon and ensures quality patient care while maintaining the sterile field.

—Radiography: Coursework will cover radiography, the use of radiation to produce images of tissues, organs, bones and vessels of the body. The radiographer’s responsibilities include accurately positioning the patient, producing quality diagnostic images, maintaining equipment and keeping computerized records.

—MRI: This training covers curriculum about physics, anatomy, patient care and safety procedures for performing an MRI.

“When our students visit a partner facility for clinical rotations, they are familiar with the technology,” McCullough said. “They are ready to begin working the second they walk through the door, which gives them an advantage over other potential employees who haven’t received that high-level training.”

Autry Tech also offers several short-term professional development courses focused on health science and health science careers such as CPR/first aid, certified medication aide, long-term care nurse aide, medical administration technician and phlebotomy.

The center is accepting applications for the adult-only classes for the 2021-22 school year through May 1. Those interested must complete a short online application, submit three letters of recommendation, provide transcripts and attend one of the required orientation sessions.

One observation and a personal interview will be scheduled for qualified applicants.

The Autry Scholarship is available to recent high school graduates who either live in the Autry district or lived in the Autry district during their senior year in high school and who meet enrollment guidelines. Students may attend during any or all of the three years immediately following high school graduation.

Instructors in the courses are:

—Lois McCullough, who became a health careers instructor in 2018. She previously was the school nurse and human anatomy and physiology teacher at Oklahoma Bible Academy. McCullough received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Oklahoma in 2007. She is a registered nurse, a certified Heart BLS instructor and also has three levels of training with the National Institute for Learning Differences.

—Sandra Patocka, who graduated from the practical nursing program in 2000 and has been a nurse for 20 years.

She joined the Autry Tech staff in 2007 and holds a bachelor’s degree in career and technical education from Oklahoma State University. Patocka, a certified clinical medical assistant, is able to help her students successfully prepare for the CCMA exam.

For information, call (580) 242-2750 or go to

Campbell is a former sports writer and current part-time writer for the News & Eagle, [email protected]

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