The Richland School District has named Jon Lobdell, principal at Chief Joseph Middle School, to lead the district’s new health sciences academy.
The academy would serve students at Richland and Hanford high schools starting in August 2017.
Lobdell will help select health care providers and medical professionals to work with the school district’s program and plan coursework for a possible enrollment of 400 students.
The school district will partner with Columbia Basin College and Kadlec Regional Medical Center. The plan is to mostly work out of CBC’s new $16.1 million health sciences building under construction near the Richland Public Library and Federal Building on Northgate Drive.
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High school students interested in health care careers could get a head start on those dreams by earning certificates for health science courses they take or hours they spend shadowing medical professionals.
The students might be able to jump right into health-related jobs right after graduation, since they would actually spend time in the workplace learning what doctors, nurses and medical professionals do.
Programs could also teach students about business and ethics practices involved in health care fields and patient care.
From dentists to brain surgeons, the outreach effort will include professionals at hospitals, clinics and dental offices across the region. The district plans to have local health professionals come in and speak to students about their work.
I think it’ll be a wonderful thing to get something like this in place. There’s an awful lot of those jobs that are left unfilled.
Jon Lobdell, future planning admin, Richland Health Sciences Academy
Richland School Board member Gordon Comfort first called for the program’s development in fall 2015. President Rick Jansons said in June that the district and past boards have long wanted to develop such a program to address health care becoming a large part of the Mid-Columbia’s economy.
Lobdell sees openings everywhere, from in-home health care to doctor’s offices.
“I think it’ll be a wonderful thing to get something like this in place,” Lobdell said. “There’s an awful lot of those jobs that are left being unfilled.”
Superintendent Rick Schulte said the school district plans to involve many different medical organizations and practices.
“We’re not closing it off to any health care provider,” Schulte said. “The field of health care is enormously varied. It’s a good opportunity for jobs and it’s expected to grow.”
Lobdell was chosen to lead the initiative because of his enthusiasm, local networks in the district, ideas about the program and military leadership experience, Schulte said.
He retired June 1 as a lieutenant colonel after a career in the Army National Guard and Reserve, including a deployment to Iraq in 2003. He also has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Whitworth University in Spokane.
Lobdell will continue to work at Chief Joseph through the 2016-2017 school year.
The district plans to choose a new principal for Chief Joseph by the start of the next school year.