Dual-Credit Course Helps Students Look Toward Future

Human Anatomy and Physiology has been offered at DSHA for more than 15 years and became a dual-(college) credit course eight years ago. This popular class, along with other courses in the dual-credit program, offers students a multitude of benefits as it relates to both college preparation and career exploration. 
Lauren Schraufnagel, DSHA ‘20, was introduced to her future profession as she watched her younger brother spend some time in the hospital. She noticed the environment around her and was inspired by the health professionals who embraced it.
“I want to do something fast-paced,” she said. “I saw myself in the shoes of the pediatrician or surgeon.”
She now has her sight set on becoming a surgeon or working in emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital. Taking DSHA’s Human Anatomy and Physiology class is the first step in achieving her dream.
Like Lauren, many students take Science Faculty Scott Fleischmann’s Human Anatomy and Physiology dual-credit class at DSHA with their eyes on the coming years. Interest in this class has grown over time. While an average of 90 students take the course each year, this year Fleischmann teaches five sections of the course, amounting to 120 students.
With multiple dissections and an end-of-the-year visit to a cadaver lab at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the year-long class isn’t for everyone. But, according to Fleischmann, it’s a perfect fit for those who are thinking about pursuing a career in health care. At the beginning of the year, he asks how many students are interested in a career in the medical field. About 75 percent of the students raise their hands.
“I’ve always wanted to go into medicine, for as long as I can remember,” said Schraufnagel. “I knew that the class went to a cadaver lab and did some dissections, so I knew the experiences inside of class would be attractive to me.”
“I was thinking that I will have to learn the basic functions of the body and neurons and this and that (to go into psychology), so I wanted to get the most knowledge as possible before I go into my field,” said Jaylin Rivas, DSHA ‘20, who took anatomy and physiology last school year.
While most students want to take the course to gage how deep their interest in medicine is, some take it to have a challenging course on their transcript.
“A dual-credit course is one of the most rigorous classes DSHA offers,” said Academic Dean Heather Mansfield. “Students are essentially taking a college course. This gives them early exposure to the rigor of a college class.”
If students pass the class, they receive four college science credits, which means a potential jumpstart on not only college credits, but college tuition as well.
More than half of the students enrolled in anatomy and physiology this year are taking the class as a dual-credit class. A dual-credit course (at times referred to as concurrent enrollment) means that while taking the course, students—both juniors and seniors—earn their high school credit plus a specified number of transferrable college credits without any additional testing. Advanced Placement classes are similar, except students only get college credit dependent on how well they on the score on the national, end-of-the-year test. Fleischmann is certified through Cardinal Stritch University to teach the dual-credit course and works with professors at Cardinal Stritch to form the curriculum, focused on lab-based work.  
“It’s taking the college class, but we just happen to be sitting at DSHA,” Fleischmann said.
In fact, there is arguably an advantage to taking the course at DSHA. While in college, the course is only one semester long; at DSHA, it spans two semesters. Fleischmann has additional time to cover more material than in the college class. Rivas also claims having Fleischmann as a teacher, who encourages his students with an understanding helpfulness, is an added bonus.
The anatomy and physiology course has been offered at DSHA since well before the new millennium. Only about eight years ago did DSHA decide to offer it as a dual-credit class.
“(Students) like taking (the class) so that if they’re not going into a science career, they can get a lab science credit out of the way before they go to school, and if they are going into sciences, it’s one less class they have to worry about,” Fleischmann said. “It’s definitely a benefit.”
Rivas is finding an advantage to taking it while still in high school. While taking anatomy and physiology last year, she looked into taking courses to become a medical interpreter. She’s currently enrolled at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), working toward becoming a bilingual medical interpreter and applying for a part-time job in clinics. Many of the medical terms she already knows from taking anatomy and physiology, and she knows more than most of her peers.
For Rivas, the dual-credit aspect of the class is a help when it comes to the affordability of college. While the per-credit cost is $900 at Cardinal Stritch, the total fee for the DSHA course is $500 for all four credits –– a savings of $3,100. According to Mansfield, taking dual-credit courses and earning college credit early saves students time and money. With the transferable college credits, students have the opportunity to finish their degree in four years for about 1/3 of the cost.
“My family is pretty low-income,” Rivas said. “If I sacrifice my time and my studies to get as much credit as possible in high school, I can graduate early and not spend as much money.”
Fleischmann mentioned that this class is not only beneficial for students with an interest in medicine, but it may also draw students who did not initially think about a future in health care. Sometimes students realize learning about the body, human organs, and diseases is something they can confidently handle.
“I think it’s very important that DSHA offers this class because of the opportunities it can bring,” said Rivas. “You can start here, and based on your interest, you can go into anything—the eyes, movement, diseases. People who want to do something in the medical field but aren’t sure what they want to do yet, whatever drives them in this class will help form their interest.”
Future careers aside, this class additionally helps students learn more about themselves. It helps them understand what doctors are talking about when they go for a visit. For example, they will experience procedures like an EKG and listen to heartbeats on stethoscopes. The course is intentionally made up of multiple real-life experiences.
“Everyone has health issues, whether it’s their own, family or friends,” said Fleischmann.
“Chemistry is great, but a lot of people say, ‘I don’t know when I’ll use this. I don’t see how that really works.’ You have to picture what will happen. Here, you can see, for example, a fractured arm and whatever else is going on inside the body. It’s something students will always deal with.”
The hands-on labs especially help Schraufnagel visualize and understand what’s going on inside the body. These in-class experiences, she says, are unique and something students don’t get in other classes or elsewhere. She feels grateful to attend a school that promotes women in STEM, more so than the co-ed schools her friends attend.
Other students feel the same way—there’s often a feeling of inspiration, empowerment, and confidence after taking anatomy and physiology. They feel better equipped to use the knowledge they learned in the course as they move beyond DSHA.
“I feel more confident going into a pre-med program in college after experiencing the class,” said Schraufnagel. “I know I’ll have to take a more advanced anatomy class at some point. Even though it will probably be hard, I have a great sense of the background knowledge before I even get there.”
More about the Dual-Credit Program at DSHA:
  • In order to teach dual-credit classes, teachers must be able to be credentialed at a university level, meaning they must have a master’s degree along with multiple years of teaching experience. They are considered adjunct professors at the university through which the dual-credit class is offered.
  • The professors at the university observe DSHA faculty members who teach the dual-credit classes.
  • Mansfield is on the concurrent enrollment board at Cardinal Stritch University; the board is made up of the dean of the university, the coordinator of the concurrent enrollment (dual-credit) program, and other high school teachers.
  • With the exception of Human Anatomy and Physiology, in which students can earn 4 transferable college credits, all other dual-credit classes at DSHA offer students 3 transferable college credits.
Dual-Credit Courses Offered at DSHA:
  • Ethnicity in American Literature | Cardinal Stritch University
  • Irish Literature | Cardinal Stritch University
  • Contemporary Literature | University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • Anatomy & Physiology | Cardinal Stritch University
  • Introduction to Ethics | Cardinal Stritch University
  • Ethics and Personal Identity | Cardinal Stritch University
  • Intercultural History: Latin America | Cardinal Stritch University
  • American Foreign Policy | Cardinal Stritch University
  • Tumultuous Times 1960s | Cardinal Stritch University
  • World Religions | Cardinal Stritch University
  • Catholic Social Teaching | Cardinal Stritch University
  • Intermediate French | University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • Intermediate Latin Poetry: Vergil | University of Minnesota
    • Jovana Vazquez Sanchez, DSHA ’21, and Makayla Hughes, DSHA ’21, dissect a chicken wing to study the muscles of the wing.

    • Lauren Schraufnagel, DSHA ‘20, is taking Anatomy and Physiology this school year in preparation to follow her passion—a career in medicine.


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