The High School Where Students Wear Scrubs

A Sacramento public high school blends work-based learning, medical science, and academics for a new generation of vocational education. BY

At Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions High School (HPHS), students wear scrubs to class. They use algebra to calculate dosages. They study books like The Hot Zone, a nonfiction thriller about Ebola. By the time they graduate, they know the difference between a phlebotomist and a pharmacist, and may have visited one at a local hospital.

High schools used to ask students to choose between career-focused and college-preparatory courses. In California, a strategy called Linked Learning blends both pathways together. State legislators have been so taken with the approach that they recently set aside $500 million to help schools adopt strategies like it.

Linked Learning makes a lot of sense for a field like health care, where most jobs require some kind of advanced training. At HPHS, which has used the strategy for a decade, not all graduates decide to pursue a health care career. But they all leave well informed about a growing sector that offers all kinds of good-paying jobs.