His father was a surgeon, and Rod Jackman went to college to become a doctor. But while working on his master's degree in family and community medicine, he had to instruct people on medical practices and discovered that he liked it.
He never became a doctor. He did, however, work as a surgical assistant. But even in that position, he missed interacting with people. He wanted a profession that allowed him to use his medical expertise while working with people.Alpine School District came to Jackman's rescue. In 1981 the district asked him to teach medical occupations at Pleasant Grove and American Fork high schools. Jackman gladly accepted.
"I could see firsthand what was going on in the medical industry, and I could see that there were a lot of opportunities out there," Jackman said. "I decided that I could bring my personal experience to the classroom to help others take advantage of those opportunities."
During his first year Jackman only had 17 students in his class. This year more than 300 students from the district's five high schools take the class. As part of the class, about 20 of the students hold paid positions at local hospitals, nursing homes and dental or doctor offices.
"We take practical application and mix it with academics, which makes both of them a little more exciting for the students," Jackman said.
Besides covering medical occupations, Jackman teaches about anatomy, nutrition and personal health. With a growing elderly population, Jackman emphasizes medical occupations that deal with the aging. Jobs involving the elderly will be in high demand in the near future, he said.
"We're going to all have to look differently at the elderly, because in the next 20 years they are going to be a major percentage of our population," he said.
Upon completion of the class, students receive college credit - either eight semester hours or 12 quarter hours.
"The class gives the students a taste of what thefield is like, and in effect they receive a $500 scholarship in the form of college credit," Jackman said.
Jackman's teaching philosophy is to take a personal interest in each student and give students' concerns priority. He says that is the advantage of taking his course over a college course.
"The teachers are there for the students, not the other way around. Some teachers think the students owe them something," he said.