Leading The Way
Preparing for careers in medical technology, forensic science, and disease research
By: Cindy Chapman
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into its third year, it’s no surprise that health care workers are even more in demand. In the years to come, the need will only increase exponentially.
For students that are interested in bridging the widespread medical gap and solving today’s problems so we can live a healthier tomorrow, there is the Biomedical Science Academy at Byron Nelson High School. This academy is striving to make a difference in the advancement of medical science not only now, but in the years to come.
The Biomedical Science Academy at Byron Nelson High School has existed for more than ten years and continues to give students a competitive advantage by offering a rigorous curriculum with hands-on learning.
Biomedical Science isn’t just geared toward those who are interested in getting their MD, but for students who have a genuine curiosity about how the body works and a passion making a difference in healthcare.
Utilizing the highly regarded Project Lead the Way (PLTW) curriculum, students learn the principles of biomedical science using the same industry equipment as professionals in scientific labs and clinics. This project-based learning gives students an advantage over traditional academics as it relies on critical thinking as opposed to just memorization of facts. With the Project Lead the Way curriculum, students who complete the four-year program have proven that their skill set is well above those that are even in college.
This four-year program begins with discovering the principles of Biomedical Science. About 120 freshmen will begin the academy by exploring concepts and how they relate to the human body. They are introduced to anatomy and physiology and the research process.
Sophomores dive deeper into the body’s organs and skeletal processes. They use data analysis and dissections to explore and replicate how the body moves and functions. Students flex their acquired knowledge by taking on the role of a biomedical professional to help solve real-world medical cases.
Juniors take what they’ve learned to investigate how to prevent, diagnose, and treat the body when something goes wrong. This requires knowing the latest innovations and techniques for treatment including analyzing DNA and understanding immunology.
By their fourth year, most seniors have a field of study they are interested in pursuing. Whether it be pediatrics or dentistry, they can conduct independent research in a niche biomedical area. Students in their final year receive additional one-on-one guidance with a mentor or an internship with an expert in their preferred field. This specialized area of study helps students focus on their ultimate career goals and secondary education opportunities that line up with their passion.
In addition to course work, students complete OSHA certification as well as Basic Life Support (BLS). BLS is CPR for healthcare providers but a more intense level of learning reserved for those in the health care industry. Getting a leg up on these types of certifications becomes a foundation for all other learning within the Biomedical Sciences Academy.
As an administrator and educator, Monica Valenta, Health Science Coordinator, shares that the academy has a bigger impact than students becoming a healthcare professional. “It definitely helps them in their core coursework, as well as feeling more confident as they continue into healthcare.They are more competitive and have an advantage against those who apply for top programs.”
Since the program emphasizes analytical thinking and understanding the value in a collaborative team. “Scientific research is a huge part in what we do at a professional level but knowing how to collaborate and interact professionally with others is just as important. You might be the most knowledgeable, but if you can't relate to people, you’re not going to succeed.”
When asking healthcare providers what they’re looking for in a prospective healthcare worker, they routinely seek those with a professional attitude that collaborates well in groups. “This is the reason we focus much more on the well-rounded individual, not just the science and academic aspects,” says Monica.
Any eighth-grader within the Northwest Independent School district can apply for admission to the Biomedical Science Academy as well as any academy offered within the district. Students are not required to have Byron Nelson High School as their feeder school.
Eighth-graders within the district will learn about the academies through their middle school, but they can also attend showcases or academy nights at Byron Nelson High School to tour the Biomedical Science facility as well as ask questions from Biomedical students and instructors.
If your child is interested in the Biomedical Science Academy or any other academy or pathway in the district, visit the NISD online calendar for event dates or contact your child’s school counselor for more information.
NISD students can submit their enrollment request to an academy or pathway each January. Learn more about the vast array of opportunities at nisdtx.org/cte.