Capturing vital signs is a critical skill learned and practiced at the Palm Desert High School Health Academy to prepare students for their future careers. Health professionals must understand what vital signs are, what the monitoring procedures include and how to perform each in a proper manner. Vital signs allow physicians and nurses to check the general condition of a patient and to identify any abnormalities, making it easier to prescribe treatment and care. 

At the Palm Desert High School Health Academy, students spend an entire unit learning how to conduct vital signs and have opportunities to practice on other students. They learn how to take pulse, temperature, blood pressure and use a height and weight scale. Once these basic skills are mastered, other Career Technical Education (CTE) students volunteer to have health academy students practice skills on them. 

The health academy classroom includes a simulated clinic and hospital setting where volunteer “patients” move through each station in the classroom clinic. Here, academy students are able to apply their basic knowledge. 

For further training and experience, students who are interested in becoming physicians or nurses take part in an activity for two weeks each month where they meet with teachers as if they were patients. Students who choose to join the activity are put into groups and asked to invite three members of our on-campus faculty to participate. From there, it is the student’s responsibility to organize two days on different weeks every month to connect. They must visit or email the teacher prior to visiting to select a date that is open for both the students and the faculty member. This activity strengthens student responsibility, communication, and technical skills. Students who participate are able to visualize what it will be like to interact with patients in the future. They come to understand that there is no time to second guess or take a procedure for granted because when doing vital signs on actual patients, precision and accuracy are essential. 

By learning these concepts as young adults, students are able to experience a small part of the medical world which allows them to identify the challenges they need to work hard at mastering and the skills needed to become exceptional health professionals.

Patel, Garcia and Shah are members of the Palm Desert High School Health Academy which prepares students for a professional career in health care. For more information on this program, contact OneFuture at (760) 625.0422 or

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