Future Professionals in Science and Tech

CFHS Students Join One of Ten Career Internships

Students at Catalina Foothills High School who think they’re destined to spend summers at a typical job can think again and instead select one of 10 career-readiness opportunities that will light up their options. These pathways include Sports Medicine and Early Childhood Education, among others.

Rylee Chung, a Tucson native and a senior at CFHS, chose Sports Medicine and is currently an intern at Tucson Orthopedic Institute and is also gaining experience observing the work of an orthopedic surgeon at Banner-University Medical Center. She spends a total of eight combined hours per week at both locations to meet the two internship requirements.

“At Tucson Orthopedic, doctors specialize in specific joints and I have learned about total joint replacements,” Rylee said, adding that having two internships enables her to see a variety of injuries and treatments, as well as learning about the many other support systems in place for patients. Some doctors specialize in hips and knees as well as upper extremities such as shoulders, elbows and wrists. “It’s amazing they can replace joints like that.” Rylee said that the orthopedic surgeon at Banner that she gets to observe and learn from specializes in sports medicine and has patients that are dealing with a wide variety of injuries. “I know that surgeons can be hesitant to work with high school students, so I am very grateful for this opportunity,” she said.

Lisa Osinga, the Sports Medicine instructor at CFHS, explained that this 3-year pathway has been up and running at the high school for five years. She noted that students typically enter these programs as sophomores starting with a class in anatomy and physiology, followed in junior year with hands-on learning and training that includes injury prevention, diagnostic tools such as ultrasound devices, creating nutrition plans, performance training plans, cycles of training. Internships are open to seniors in the program’s third year. “Students really enjoy the internships. There are many types not just in sports medicine, but in veterinary clinics, pediatrics, dermatology, orthopedic surgery, cardiovascular, poison control at U of A,” Osinga said. Each internship requires that students put in 60 hours per semester. There is also a capstone project in the third year, she noted.

Cari Burson, the director of Career and Technical Education (CTE), said she is grateful to be on site at the high school versus at a district office. This gives her more direct and immediate access to pathway instructors and students, and she can see first-hand how things are developing and moving forward. Burson noted that the Early Childhood Education pathway is new this school year, and that it has been well received. “Students are learning about human growth and development this semester, Burson said, and that next semester they can “earn ECE credit through Pima Community College.”

The ECE pathway facilitates the fingerprint clearance card process as well as other criteria for students to be able to work and participate in activities with students in schools up to grade 8. “The lab is at the Valley View campus where first-year students are observers,” Burson said, noting that lessons in theories of development are coupled with observation, including watching for milestones, signs of developmental delays, and other important stages of development. “By the third year, students will be ready to put their skills and knowledge into practice at preschools, elementary or middle schools. They can develop lessons and be ready for student teaching-type experiences in their last year in the program.”

Not only do students in all 10 pathways receive instruction, training, and internships, but they also can become certified in their areas of expertise and be workforce-ready upon graduation from high school. Internships can also lead to employment. The Sports Medicine pathway started offering certifications for Medical Assistant (MA) and Physical Therapy Aide (PTA), Osinga said.

Rylee, having worked closely with an MA at one of her internships, said she will apply for the MA certification at the end of the school year in May 2024. “I am pretty set on the MA certification,” Rylee said, adding that it will give her more options working in the medical field, especially if she decides to pursue medical school.

Burson noted that many CFHS graduates attend college and many of them are interested in pre-med, and the Sports Medicine program was developed so that the first two years would provide students with a solid foundation to any pre-med pathway they would want to take. “One of the consistent factors in all of the programs is leadership,” Burson said, adding that there is a club associated with each pathway and students compete with other high schools throughout the nation. “They take on extensive leadership roles; their skills are top notch when they reach out to people in the community. They can communicate clearly, they can write letters, make phone calls. There is a high level of professionalism in every program,” Burson continued.

In addition to Sports Medicine and ECE, the other 2- to 4-year pathways are: Biotechnology, Engineering, Business, Graphic Design, Film and Television: Media, Photography, Technical Theater, and Computer Programming.

“Students really enjoy the internships. There are many types not just in sports medicine,” said Lisa Osinga, Sports Medicine Instructor at CFHS

"It’s amazing they can replace joints like that.” Rylee Chung, student.

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