Training Trainers: St. Pius X students getting invaluable experience in the medical field
As long as McKenzie Slaid can remember, she has been interested in pursuing a career in the medical field.
Last year, Slaid became a student athletic trainer at St. Pius X High School. Now, entering her second year as a part of the after-school program, Slaid is enjoying getting all this experience under her belt before ever stepping onto a college campus.
"Being a part of this has been a huge part of my high school experience, mostly because this is my No. 1 favorite thing to do," Slaid said. "Being a trainer has given me some good insight into what the medical field might look like. I can say I've definitely learned a whole bunch."
The program is led by St. Pius X Athletic Trainer Jeremy Kallus.
Kallus – a 2009 graduate of St. Pius X – majored in athletic training at Texas State before getting his master's in medical science with an emphasis on athletic training at the University of South Florida.
While at St. Pius X, Kallus played soccer all four years, ran cross country and played golf. When researching different careers, Kallus said he wanted to stay in sports but also be in healthcare. Becoming an athletic trainer ended up being the perfect mix.
Now, he leads this program, where students interested in a potential career in the medical field or not are involved.
"There's a good mixture of students," Kallus said. "Some are specifically interested in sports medicine; some are former athletes, and some are involved with fine arts and theater. I get a good mixture of kids. Luckily at St. Pius X, we're able to have students get as much experience as they can in high school."
Ryan Smith is entering his junior year at St. Pius X, his second year in the program. In his time, Smith said he has gotten key medical experience such as learning how to properly stretch people, fix up scrapes and understanding the medical protocol in certain situations.
Smith would like to use this experience to lead to a job that takes him to the stars, in a way. The junior is interested in Space Medicine as a future career field.
"It's not necessarily going into space and being a doctor, it's more being on the ground and giving the astronauts a plan," Smith said. "If they need a meal, or if they need to run to help their physical stature."
The biggest job of an athletic trainer at the end of the day is to make people better.
An athlete never wants to spend the majority of their time in the trainer's room, but when that is the case, seeing them walk out healthy and ready to play again is the ultimate payoff for the trainers.
"It's crazy to have that realization that you helped heal somebody," Slaid said. "It gives you purpose and makes you feel like you're a part of something good. That you've helped somebody. It's a really good feeling."
"I think the most fun comes from helping people, especially those that appreciate it," Smith added. "And also going on trips with the football team. Not so much unpacking and carrying around water for a few hours, but it's the people that make it a lot of fun."
For Kallus, when he was in high school, there wasn't a program like this.
Looking back on it, Kallus believes having something like student training would have "put a different light on different opportunities" for him. That's his main goal for his students.
"My top goal is for them to understand the choices they have in the healthcare field," Kallus said. "If it is in athletic training, nursing, physical therapy or even becoming a doctor, my main thing is that they make the right decision for their future."
This article appeared in the St. Pius X VYPE Fall Edition ... Be sure to go to St. Pius X High School right now to purchase the new St. Pius X VYPE Winter Edition.