Plato CTE Courseware & the Health Sciences Career Cluster

Wednesday, June 8, 2016 -- Thomas Boe

Over the past few years, nearly every state in the union has worked hard to redesign its career and technical education (CTE) standards into coherent courses and plans of study. For the most part, states have organized their standards based on the 16 Career Clusters® defined by Advance CTE In this post, we’ll look into the Health Sciences cluster.

Student interest and career opportunities in the health sciences

At the secondary level, student enrollment in the health sciences ranked #3 from among the 16 CTE career clusters. Enrollment in the health sciences has also shown strong growth over the long term, second only to the Arts, A/V Technology and Communications cluster. This strong, steady, and growing popularity isn’t an accident. The health sciences field is a large and expanding sector in the US economy. It’s also projected to continue growing for decades. Finally, most health professionals earn good, dependable salaries. Students have noticed and have taken action to investigate their personal opportunities in the health sciences.

How do the health sciences fit into secondary education?

Almost all health sciences professions require post-secondary training and often a graduate-level degree. What should a student in middle school or high school do to investigate careers in the health sciences and prepare for success in a health sciences program?

The most important step for health sciences (and most other career areas) is to focus on overall academic strength. These professional careers require strong communications skills, strong social skills, and especially a strong background in the STEM disciplines of math and science. Second, if students are intrigued by the health sciences, they should enroll in an introductory CTE course in the field. That course should give them a good understanding of the many career pathways open to them in the health sciences, help them develop specific career-related skills, and help them understand the business and organization of the health science field. If that hooks them, a few key secondary-level courses can give students a strong start in the field prior to selecting and pursuing a post-secondary education program.

Plato courses in the health sciences

Advanced and specialized courses required for most health sciences programs are designed for post-secondary students with a strong STEM foundation. Those courses often have an intensive hands-on clinical or technical focus, and typically require a lot of personal contact and close supervision. Online high school courses with a qualified teacher, however, can offer students a clearer vision of the opportunities in the health sciences and provide a solid understanding of the field, its career paths, and its specialized knowledgebase. The Plato CTE Course Library features the following secondary-level courses, which are specifically designed to provide a solid introduction and foundation for a wide range of health science related programs:

  • Principles of Health Science A/B
  • Health Science 1 A/B
  • Health Science 2 A/B
  • Applied Medical Terminology A/B
  • Nutrition and Wellness

Value for students

Plato CTE courses in the health sciences are designed to meet state standards for curriculum and provide a careful balance of concept development and student activity. Each lesson features embedded self-checked lesson activities, designed as mini projects, which enable students either to put instruction into concrete practice or develop and extend key concepts through their own work and investigation. Plato courses also feature more time-intensive unit activities and course activities to address the need for larger projects. This balance of instruction and focused activity provides students with a strong conceptual base, as well as concrete, practical skills and understanding.

For students who wish to gain professional recognition for their knowledge in the health sciences, Plato CTE courses support preparation efforts for several popular certification examinations appropriate for secondary-level students, including:

  • Nurse Aide Examination (Various State Boards of Nursing)
  • National Health Care Foundation Skill Standards Assessment:  National Consortium on Health Science and Technology Education
  • Nursing Assisting Assessment (NOCTI)

A rich and effective CTE program can help all students be more successful in college and in their careers. Courses in the health sciences are central to that preparation for many students. Edmentum is proud to provide schools with tools to make college and career readiness a reality. Interested in learning more about Edmentum's industry-leading CTE offerings? We've recently released even more new CTE offerings, bringing our complete Career & Technical Education Library to over 100 courses!