UAA health and medical programs land students jobs

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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

UAA offers various programs like engineering, health, medicine and business. Among the many degrees available, health and medicine are in high demand, especially in Alaska. Through nursing, pre-med and natural science programs geared towards medical practices, UAA has helped students apply the skills they’ve learned in the work field.

Before students get into any health or natural science programs, they must take certain classes to qualify.

“As far as the natural science classes go, we do require two anatomy and physiology classes, two chemistry classes and a microbiology class, all of which are probably our hardest pre-major non-nursing classes,” Danielle Dixon, UAA nursing advisor, said.

Since health and natural science fall into similar categories, students who are studying in the medical field are required to take numerous science classes as a baseline of knowledge. Classes like anatomy, physiology, physics and microbiology helped Brent Sugabo, a pre-med student, apply those skills in his current jobs as a Certified Nursing Assistant and cardiac telemetry monitor technician at Alaska Regional Hospital.

“All my life I knew I wanted to be a doctor, and everything I’ve done thus far is in pursuit of that dream…These classes have made me a better CNA and monitor tech working with patients directly by understanding what’s happening physically on the outside, knowing what’s happening inside and how to help them,” Sugabo said.

As students take these classes, they are required to take lab courses in order to apply those skills effectively. Divine Nate, a UAA alumna with a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science, took these classes into account while working at her current job as a laboratory scientist at the Alaska Native Medical Center.

“The many hours of lab have definitely helped me prepare for the real work — we used real blood and actual materials from hospitals around Anchorage during our lessons. Also, the two semesters of externship required for the degree was a great help. Each student was assigned to different hospitals and shadowed lab employees along with other departments in a lab like phlebotomy,” Nate said.

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In the Health Sciences Building on campus, there are two rooms for nursing students designated for practicing on animatronic patients.

“We have artificial man, woman and baby. We can program them to display all kinds of vital signs… Students can get that hands-on experience and really see what they’re doing and why some of the rules for nursing is important,” Dixon said.

Coming from Unalaska, Jhiddle Sugabo has been able to attend UAA and obtain more knowledge in nursing. With classes that teach students the practicality of nursing, Jhiddle earned a CNA after taking the Foundations of Nursing in the nursing program.

Jhiddle is one of the students who gained valuable experience in the nursing program.

“I had a brother in the Philippines who was very young, and he was diagnosed with a lot of issues. I was there for him, and I want to be there for someone who’s going through that,” Jhiddle said.