Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Seniors Reflect on Hands-On Experience, Externships as Med Program Concludes

Photo By Mara Thomas
Coco Estrada takes a students’ blood pressure.

Oliver Abdu

Senior Oliver Abdu has found his place in the medical wing at Rio. Abdu was inspired to pursue a role in the medical careers program by his mother, who works in the emergency department at Sutter hospital.

“She would always come home and talk to me about her day which got me really interested in this type of thing,” Abdu said. “My mom found we had this program here so I was like, ‘I might as well get into it.’ And it just grew on me.”

Abdu joined the medical program his junior year and it has encouraged him to further his medical education in college.

“I’m planning on going to American River for community college and joining their nursing program,” he said. “I’m also planning on doing the TAG program there, which will give me a select number of UCs to go to. My main choice right now is Cal Poly Humboldt, but if I can’t get into that after ARC, I’m going to go to UC Davis.”

After college, Abdu hopes to be a nurse’s assistant or nurse practitioner and keep up the family tradition of helping those in need.

Unfortunately, due to scheduling issues, Abdu was not able to be placed in an externship like most of the class. But this unfortunate setback has not limited Abdu’s ability to succeed in the classroom.

Medical careers teacher London Mackey had nothing but kind words to say about Abdu.

“You are always helping me out. You’re stepping up and taking care of stuff. You’re always polite and kind,” Mackey said. “It is not always easy for a student to understand the transition into professionalism, and he does a great job at that. He’s a really good leader.”

Additionally, not being in an externship has provided Abdu with new connections and opportunities.

“There are only four of us who didn’t get placed at a site, so I got to know those people more,” Abdu said.

All of the extra study time for the NNCT exam he got was also helpful. The NCCT exam, which stands for National Center for Competency Testing, is the test students must take to get their medical assisting license.

“It’s really meant to build on the career you’re gonna start in in the medical field and it’s a very big test,” Abdu said. “We’ve already done a couple practice exams on it to see where we’re at, and it looks like it’ll be pretty difficult.”

The stress of the exam is partially alleviated by the fun that students have in the class. Between learning new skills, doing simulations, and working with other students, the medical class is a very hands-on experience.

“I really enjoyed doing injections.Or the phlebotomy unit was also very fun,” Abdu said. “My favorite moment was when we did this geriatric simulation. We got to put on a bunch of weighted gear that constricted our joints and it let us feel what life is like in an old person’s body.”

Coco Estrada

Imagine being up close and personal with a 7-centimeter deep wound in someone’s leg. For senior Coco Estrada, this is not only an exhilarating experience, but a familiar one. 

She is a member of Rio’s medical program, which provides students with the opportunity for real life healthcare experience. These are called externships, and involve medical seniors being placed in hospitals or clinics to get real-life medical experience.

“I was put into a wound ostomy and compression clinic and I got to see surgery,” Estrada said. “If I was working with a compression patient we would measure their legs, take pulses [and] vitals, doing a good amount we learned in the classroom which I took to my externship.”

She was also able to follow a patient’s medical journey for two months until he healed.

“My first day we had this patient and he came in and his leg was all wrapped up. And I was like, oh my god, this is my first day. I hope it’s really something exciting,” Estrada said. “He was helping transport his wife from her wheelchair and he just hit his shin. And so he got a little blood clot and it started getting larger and larger and larger and they had to get it surgically removed. So when we unwrapped his leg, there was this giant hole. I believe it was like seven centimeters deep.”

Estrada was assigned to the VA for her externship.

“I actually had the opportunity to go to the surgical floor, which was really cool,” Estrada said. “The first surgery I got to see was a removal of a mass on a patient’s neck.”

Estrada has a particular interest in neurosurgery.

Her love for medicine began at a young age, inspired by her friends and family to pursue a future in it.

“I have a lot of doctors and surgeons and nurses—every part of the medical field—in my family on my mom’s side. So that kind of started it,” Estrada said.

Estrada will continue her journey at Southern Oregon or Grand Canyon University majoring in nursing. She hopes to either work as a neurosurgeon or physician assistant after completing her school.

“It has been a lot of work. A lot of work, a lot of determination,” she said about being a member of the medical program. “But I am gonna be so happy to walk across that stage with my cord and my sash. It’s definitely an amazing program.”

As for those who may be interested in joining the program, Estrada recommends it.


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Mara Thomas, Staff Writer

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