by Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director
Bianna Music wants you to know: This was not your typical career fair.
Sure, there were booths and friendly faces to answer questions. But there was so much more.
“They encourage interactive stations to interest the students and display professions,” said Music, MLS (ASCP) CM, and the Medical Laboratory Science CERH Associate Director in Hazard.
Last week, 12 schools from all over eastern Kentucky bussed about 300 students to the 2021 Health Career Expo at the Ramada Inn in Paintsville.
“We want this event to be eye-catching, hands-on, and as interactive as we can make it,” said Melissa Perry, Health Careers Counselor for the Southeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center.
Participants were asked to bring any visuals, displays, tools-of-the-trade, photographs, models or simulators to motivate, encourage and spark an interest in students to further their education and pursue a career in the expanding and exciting field of health care.
Music said she was able to set up a Hematology station and explain how red and white blood cells are important.
“As a medical laboratory scientist, we assist physicians by taking that blood collection tube and providing cell counts as well as looking at cell morphology,” she said. “I was able to show with a microscope and slides how these cells look different when we have different diseases, such as malaria, sickle cell disease, and chronic myeloid leukemia.”
One of her students manned a station where they discussed microbiology pathogens, letting students find the bacteria in a microscope before explaining how Medical Laboratory Scientists are able to identify what organism is causing an infection and discovering which antibiotic will best treat it.
In a perfect nod to Allied Health Week, Music said she also appreciated the different number of allied health fields represented.
“Across from me was fire and rescue, beside us was nursing,” she said. “Some of the other stations included radiology, physical therapy assistants, osteopathic medicine and surgical technology. We have smart, talented, motivated kids in eastern Kentucky. But sometimes it is hard for them to know or be exposed to all the different allied health fields that exist right here, right in our hometowns.”
Music said an event like the Health Careers Expo allows them to see opportunities that they may never otherwise know about.
“I have done this event in the past with my students and really enjoyed it,” she said. “My profession is facing a chronic shortage of workers and our community health is suffering for it. These kids are ready to change the world. To speak to these students who have so much passion and show them how working in Medical Laboratory Science can really make a difference inspires me all over again.
“I find that handful of students who never knew about MLS, and I see their faces light up,” she continued. “They realize there is a place for the scientist in their hometown, that they can learn to be empowered about their healthcare knowledge for themselves and their families, while doing a career they love, wherever they want to live.”