Dressed in navy blue scrub bottoms, and a crisp white top, each student sat attentively in the classroom as they were beginning to put their mark on WVU Tech's first Southern West Virginia Junior Nursing Academy.
A three-day experience, the Junior Nursing Academy gives 8th graders the opportunity to connect with real nurses and health care professionals to learn about the profession and see if the field may be something they want to pursue as a career.
Tuesday's activities included a basic nursing skills lab, along with an operating room simulation at Raleigh General Hospital, where Crystal Sheaves, a chair on the Department of WVU School of Nursing on the Beckley campus, said students had the opportunity to get the real operating room experience as a nurse.
As students stood before professionals, each was given a plastic bag with gear they would need to take care of their patients on a daily basis. Under supervision of officials, they began putting their garments on, giving them a dose of what a nurse's garb feels like.
The heat of the uniform was a shock to many of the students, opening up the realization a nursing profession is for the strong-willed, many said.
Students slowly completed the uniform process while professionals highlighted the importance of each garment including that of a yellow net-like gown, face mask, goggles, hair nets, shoe covers and of course, latex gloves.
Students even gained the opportunity of learning how to check the blood pressure of a patient, and their heartbeat.
Sheaves explained the southern region of the state had not had the opportunity to experience a junior nursing program before, so bringing the summer program to the forefront was something she had pushed for.
"This is something we hope to continue to grow, and offer it in upcoming years," Sheaves said. "It's so nice to see how excited they are over it, and how hungry they are to learn new things."
Sheaves explained the students also had the opportunity to learn other basics, like hygiene and the particulars of vigorously washing one's hands.
Students rubbed their hands in a glow-like substance before taking part in the hand washing, and once hands were properly washed, their instructors would shine a light to see if a the glowing substance still appeared. If it did, it indicated the hands weren't washed properly.
"I thought that was just really cool, to see the glow still on your hands just shows we must not wash them as well as we should," Lydia Crook, a upcoming 9th grade student in Wyoming County, said.
Crook has no doubt in her mind she will be serving as a doctor in the military one day, she said.
Being able to learn the basics of what it would take to be a nurse will help better prepare Crook for her job as a military doctor one day. She said, "It's a great experience, and has helped me realize this is still what I want to do."
Another Wyoming County student had a different experience.
Heidi Kelly, an upcoming 8th grader, claimed she is completely unsure of what she wants to do in life, but enrolled in the Junior Nursing Academy to help broaden the choices she may have in the future.
"I think it would be really cool to be a nurse, and I think it's really cool to do all this stuff," Kelly said. "So far I've learned a lot, and the people teaching us have been really nice."
Kelly claimed she was most excited for the operating and emergency rooms simulations.
"It will be so cool to see it all in action.
The Junior Nursing Academy at WVU Tech will extend through Thursday, when a graduation and awards ceremony will take place at 3:30 p.m. the Erma Byrd Higher Education Center in Beckley.