Health Care-Related Pilots Coming Ahead of New Curricula

Brice Fortinberry, Carl Smith and Brock Turnipseed

Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit Project Manager Sam Watts (right) leads a group of instructors during a 2019 sports medicine revision meeting.

Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit Project Manager Sam Watts (right) leads a group of instructors during a 2019 sports medicine revision meeting. Watts and the RCU helped facilitate task forces of educators as they developed two new health care-related curricula — health information technology and fitness and nutrition — for the Mississippi Department of Education.
Photo by Carl Smith

Task forces of educators and industry professionals from across the state are helping the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) develop and implement two new health care-related curricula.

Pilot programs are expected to be in place for health information technology (HIT) and fitness and nutrition in classrooms by the 2020-2021 academic year, and the two programs should be brought before the Mississippi State Board of Education for approval by the end of 2022.

HIT is a stand-alone, two-year program for students interested in an alternative path to health care and medical fields. It will cover a variety of topics, including basic health care systems, medical terminology, Microsoft Word and Excel, electronic medical records and field-specific finances. It will also provide industry visits and calls for student-delivered presentations, thereby helping develop the soft skills and critical thinking capabilities that give graduates a competitive advantage when looking for jobs in the growing field, said Sam Watts, who oversees the health science curriculum for the Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit.

Like HIT, fitness and nutrition are rapidly growing aspects of the health industry. Educators felt it was important to offer a program that provides students specialized instruction in nutrition, energy systems and other fundamental components of basic health and fitness, hands-on experiences and training, including the ability to receive CPR and fitness trainer certifications.

By covering first aid, exercise-based anatomy, basic nutrition, behavior changes associated with fitness, proper exercise techniques, legal and ethical concerns, business and marketing, the program will provide students an encompassing look into the industry and prepare them for postsecondary opportunities in the realm of fitness and nutrition.

"Through the fitness and nutrition program, students will be able to take a baseline assessment of their clients, monitor their progress and make changes as necessary," Watts said. "Students will practice performing and coaching good technique with various exercises and should be able to program and write workouts for their clients using a variety of equipment and movements. Finally, they will know how to pursue any other careers in fitness and nutrition once they have completed this course, enabling them to make the best decisions for their future education and career choices." 


Connections is the magazine for K-12 career and technical education (CTE) in Mississippi. The biannual publication features students, educators, schools, and organizations from approximately 50 career pathways across 16 career clusters. This Mississippi Department of Education publication is produced by the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State University. Issues are disseminated in print and electronic forms in May and December each year.

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