Choto teen starts Irish Med Club, academy

Knoxville Catholic High School junior Andrew Dreiser is a true leader.

As a student interested in eventually becoming a doctor, the Choto-area teen thought his fellow students might wish to pursue jobs in the medical field as well, and began two separate yet related programs at KCHS earlier this year: The Irish Medicine Club and the Health Science Academy.

“The Irish Medicine Club is primarily designed to provide students with an opportunity to explore the diverse career paths within the healthcare field,” explained Dreiser, the son of John Dreiser and Heather Dreiser.

“On the other hand, the Health Science Academy, or AMP class, is specifically tailored to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue careers in the healthcare industry,” he added. “These programs cater to our most accomplished and ambitious health science students.”

So far Irish Medicine has offered students job shadowing: a chance to meet and speak with health care professionals, facility tours, medical based service projects, clinical rotations and internships.

The AMP Class has offered CPR/AED/First Aid and Basic Life Support, plus the chance to become licensed.

“Students who take their licensing exams through this course will be eligible to work as nursing assistants and tech and medical assistants,” noted Pam Rhoades, KCHS director of marketing and communications.

“Currently, our primary objective is to assist students who are completing the training program in securing employment opportunities,” Dreiser said.

Both the club and class have been very popular, with 64 students joining The Irish Medicine club alone — and both have the blessings of KCHS staff and administration.

“During the club’s establishment, I had an initial conversation with a science teacher and the Dean of Students,” Dreiser said. “Following that, I began building the foundation for the club and subsequently contacted local medical organizations.

“Throughout the process, I received significant support and encouragement from the school’s faculty and staff,” he added.

As for the students themselves, Dreiser said, “I had anticipated some interest in the club from a few kids, but the overwhelming response of 64 individuals took me by surprise.

“The entire school has shown remarkable enthusiasm and support for the club, making it an integral aspect of the Catholic High School community,” he added.

“This has been a fabulous program Andrew has started,” said Parri Thurman, whose daughter, Karenna, is among Irish Medicine Club members. “It has given the students lots of hands-on experience and my daughter loves it.”

Irish Medicine has partnered with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Covenant Health and other local medical entities to teach and guide club members. Dreiser also was successful in requesting a visit from UT Medical Center’s LifeStar helicopter, which landed at KCHS’s football practice field Thursday, March 30.

“It seems that the LifeStar outreach was a huge success, with positive feedback from both the students and the Catholic community,” Dreiser said. “The opportunity to see the helicopter up close and learn from the experienced crew was greatly appreciated.

“In regard to the broader club, we are collaborating with local organizations to arrange summer volunteer opportunities and to help students explore various medical fields,” he added.

“We aspire to expand the club next year, building upon the successful fundraisers. .... Our aim for next year is to host more fundraisers to support local medical establishments.”