SHS Prepares Students for Medical Careers

Silverton High School senior Alex Cross is interested in a career in medicine. As part of the high school’s Health Occupations Program, she has spent time in the classroom learning some of the basics, including how to take vital signs, infection control practices and patient privacy laws. After observing health and after life care providers in six Silverton locations including the hospital, medical clinics, a funeral home and animal clinic, veterinary medicine has captured her interest. Thanks to the team at Silver Creek Animal Clinic, a long-standing partner of the high school’s Health Occupations Program, Cross is currently sitting in on veterinary surgeries and procedures while learning the basics about animal care.

“I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it at first, but I really like watching surgeries,” said Cross as she observed Silver Creek Animal clinic veterinarian Jenny Bate operate on a Rottweiler. Recently, Cross had the unique opportunity to watch a surgery to remove the eyes of a dog who was suffering with pain from diabetes. “The procedure was called enucliation,” said Cross as Bates nodded approvingly.

Thanks to a strong partnership with Silverton Health, Geralyn Sheets, RN, has guided many SHS alumni into careers in medicine. Sheets currently teaches the high school’s Health Occupations class while encouraging and coaching students as they explore a variety of options in the health care field.

“We couldn’t do this without our amazing community partners who really are champions for our students,” said Sheets. “Between Silverton Health’s hospital and clinics, Unger Chappel, Keizer Clinic and Silver Creek Animal Clinic, our students are observing many different types of careers in medicine.”

According to Sheets, the Health Occupation Program is in high demand with 23 classroom spots and more than 50 students who have applied to the program next year.

SHS alumni Josiah Miller, medical assistant for Hope Family Medicine in Silverton, is one of many SFSD graduates working as medical professionals after participating in the district’s Health Occupation Program.

“We interview each student to understand their interest level and it’s not easy to choose only about half of them,” said Sheets who added that she would love to expand partnerships with other medical providers to serve more students. “We need partners willing to allow students to job shadow for less than two hours each week. We work with the students on professional behavior and appearance and we coach them on being engaged and asking questions.”

Cross says Sheets has helped her step out of her comfort zone and ask questions.

SHS alumni Josiah Miller, who is currently working as a medical assistant at Silverton’s Hope Family Medicine clinic, said the Health Occupations Program was an important step in his career choice.

“It’s an excellent program with a wide spectrum view of healthcare,” said Miller.

Community partners and students interested in more information Health Occupations can contact Geralyn Sheets at