VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — Some students at Vestavia Hills High School are gaining fundamental skills to work in the sports medicine industry.

Athletic trainer Hannah Peterson started the sports medicine pathway three years ago. She sees the classes as a way for students to get a head start with a career.

“They’re getting a fundamental skill set in anything medicine,” said Peterson. “Anyone who wants to work in the realm of orthopedics or athletics — so physical therapy, physical therapy assistant, athletic trainers, orthopedic physicians, orthopedic nurses — there’s a lot of opportunities for them in this environment.” 

For some students like senior Nolan Hayes, the program has helped develop a professional goal.

“ It will help you narrow it down later on,” said Hayes. “You don’t have to spend time thinking about your major in college. You may have it narrowed down before you get there. It’s pretty helpful.” 

Hayes now plans on going into geriatrics and physical therapy.

“This is one of those classes I look forward to coming to,” said Hayes. “We don’t really have much homework, it’s a lot of hands-on activities in class.”

Students are allowed creative freedom when planning exercise programs for theoretical clients. The skills students initially lean in the classroom are later put into action in the gym.

“They’re coming up with a guided exercise, but also a free weight exercise and then just a home exercise for someone who’s at home and doesn’t have equipment,” said Peterson.

Peterson has plans to continue growing program. Next year, the high school will offer a nursing class taught by a licensed nurse.