St. Michael's High School

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Medical Magnet Program

Program Summary: St. Michael’s High School established a new and innovative program called the Medical Magnet Program (MMP). The MMP lives within the school’s STEM program, which includes computer programming, robotics, and life science initiatives.  While traditional “STEM” acronyms account for math in the “M” our program replaces the “M” with the Medical Magnet Program. St. Michael’s already hosts the strongest Math program in Santa Fe. The MMP is an added value to the STEM offerings at the school.

The MMP consists of a curriculum that focuses on the sciences and math disciplines and intends to build a lasting connection between health care and students, linking them with the local hospital and the Santa Fe community. The differentiating classes in the MMP include Intro to Medical Terminology, Introduction to Medical Ethics, Anatomy & Physiology, Concepts of Genetics, Introduction to Neuroscience, and a clinical context program at Christus St. Vincent Hospital. A student in the program would take these classes in addition to the required classes in math and science the school already requires of students.

One-sentence description of the program: The Medical Magnet Program (MMP) at St. Michael’s High School, a component of the STEM program housed within the Science Department, is a specific and rigorous sequence and selection of health science classes available to students in grades 9–12 grade who have specific interests in pursuing medical programs in college and beyond.

Course Sequence: Students are expected to take the following science classes in addition to their regular math and science curriculum. 

Freshman Year: Introduction to Medical Terminology, Introduction to Medical Ethics - 1 trimester each

Sophomore Year: Anatomy/Physiology "A" - 1 trimester

Junior Year: Anatomy/Physiology "B" with clinical context experience at Christus St. Vincent Hospital 1x/week for 1 trimester.  *Please note, the Christus clinical context experience is not finalized or official and is not scheduled to occur until the spring of 2022 for the first cohort.

Senior Year: Students must take one of four science electives: What's eating us? (about infectious diseases), Criminalistics, Concepts of Genetics, or Introduction to Neuroscience.  *Please note that Genetics and Neuroscience classes have not been offered before and are expected to be in the 2022-2023 school year. 

Program Origin: The STEM program at St. Michael’s High School is growing rapidly. With recent class additions in programming, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and Robotics at our school, MMP comes on the heels of a great STEM resurgence in our school. MMP will prepare students at St. Michael’s with a meaningful and comprehensive health science foundation in preparation for health science majors in college. The objective is to significantly spark passion and interest in our students who are interested in health science fields and STEM, with the intention of those students becoming medical practitioners and returning to their home town of Santa Fe to fill the many medical needs in our community.

Program Faculty & Coordination: The Medical Magnet Program is coordinated by faculty in the Science Department because it is housed within the Science Department at St. Michael’s. Faculty in the MMP are current or former medical practitioners, bringing real-life experience to the classroom. Faculty in the MMP are especially charged with having a knack and talent for building rapport with new, young, curious, and eager students with the intent on building passion and enthusiasm for the health sciences in our students and promoting the health sciences into college and beyond. Faculty and guest speakers have ranged from retired and current MDs to health care administrators, radiology techs, surgery specialists, surgeons, or nurses. Faculty in the MMP report to the Science Department Chair, Mr. Rob Madril. 

Rob Madril earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy and his master’s degree in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College. He has teaching endorsements in science, math, and social studies. At St. Michael’s, Mr. Madril teaches AP Physics C Mechanics, Physical Science, Honors Environmental Science, and Honors Intro to Engineering . Mr. Madril reports to the Principal. 

Jessica Balladeras serves as the Medical Magnet Teacher/Director. Ms. Balladeras holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and is a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), a Registered Phlebotomist Technician (RPT) and is currently the Allied Health Program Coordinator at the Santa Fe Community College’s Health and Science Department. She is a gifted teacher and brings experience, enthusiasm, and stability to the MMP.

Measuring Success In MMP: As with any program, measuring success is important.  Three criterion have been initially implemented to measure success in the MMP. They are:

  1. ACT Math & Science subscores. Students in the MMP are expected to score higher on the science section of the ACT. We will compare the science subscores of our MMP cohort to the rest of the student population to determine how much better our MMP and STEM students did than the non-MMP student population. This data will inform the success of our program and provide a foundational data point for changes to the program year by year.
  2. College Major Selection. We expect more students at our school to declare health science majors upon graduation than currently declared. While we realize students change majors, we also know many students are focused on health science careers as early as age 15 (sophomores in high school). We have never tracked declared majors vs finished majors but do intend to measure the effectiveness of STEM and MMP on our student college major decision-making process.
  3. MMP Retention. If curriculum and pedagogy are working—and dare we say, “inspiring”—our students the way we expect, attrition in the MMP program should be low and retention should be high. In other words, the same 16 or 32 students who start in the program as freshmen should be the same 16 or 32 who walk across the stage at graduation, identified with a special MMP cord with their cap and gown.

Performance Measures:

Level 1 - Quantity of effort: At a minimum, the MMP will impact 16 students per year and as many as 25, depending on student interest. Over four years, there will be at least 64 students in the MMP program (16 per year for four years). If the program succeeds like our projections anticipate, there could be as many as 128 students in the program per year (32 students per grade x 4 grades = 128 students).

Level 2 - Quality of effort: The MMP requires seasoned faculty and staff with credentials and experience in a hospital or clinical setting. A program with 64 students would be served by 1.5 dedicated FTE in our faculty. A program as large as 128 students requires 2.0–2.5 FTE to accommodate class sizes of 16-20 and the diversity and breadth of schedule to accomplish our goals. Students in our other STEM classes (robotics/programming) are taught by credentialed professionals in the field.

Level 3/4 - Quantity and Quality of effect: Twelve months after graduation from St. Michael’s and the MMP/STEM program the school will measure the number of students who chose a declared health science program at graduation and those who remained in that major program in college after at least one year. Forty-eight months from graduation we will measure the number of students who graduated from college in a health science field and determine whether they have taken alternate pathways (medical school, LPN, CNA, tech specialist, etc.). We will measure those differences/increases/decreases as well. Lastly, we plan to quantify the number of St. Michael’s graduates in MD programs across the country and compare to those who were enrolled in the MMP/STEM programming at St. Michael’s to measure the quantity and quality of the MMP program.

Impact On Local Community: The student body at St. Michael’s is very diverse, and we believe represents the most accurate cross section portrayal of Santa Fe of any school in Santa Fe. 

Age: We serve students in 7th–12th grade. 7th graders are typically age 12 when they enter and leave 7th grade as a 13-year-old. Seniors typically enter 12th grade as a 17-year-old and graduate as an 18-year-old. Therefore, our school serves students from ages 12–18.

Gender: In the 2018–2019 school year, our school had 238 male students (51%) and 228 female students (49%).

Ethnicity: 211 of our students (45%) identify as Latino/Hispanic; 110 students identify as Caucasian (24%); 83 students identify as Multi-racial (18%); and the remaining 13% of our student population identify as African American/Native American/Asian or did not report their ethnicity to the school.

County: The majority of our students reside in Santa Fe County. We have a small handful of students (fewer than 20) who live in and around Pecos and travel from San Miguel County.  We have another cluster of students (about 20) who live North of Santa Fe in Rio Arriba County and another handful of students (about 10) who live in Sandoval County.

Socioeconomic Status: Approximately 35% of our student population receives some type of tuition assistance to attend St. Michael’s. 10.5% of our student population (49 of our 466 students) qualify for free and reduced lunch. Approximately 20% of our students pay their tuition and fees in full before the school year starts, and the other 80% are on one of three different monthly payment plans. Over the last four years our financial assistance budget has doubled because of our increased value on removing financial barriers and increasing access to our school.

An anticipated outcome of the MMP is for our students to return to Santa Fe as medical practitioners—serving all populations in Santa Fe and the surrounding counties, especially the poor and marginalized communities in Northern New Mexico.

Direct Connection To Needs of Santa Fe: The STEM program and Medical Magnet Programs at St. Michael’s address the life-span category of School-Aged Children & Adolescents and specifically addresses indicator 2: Youth Depression, and indicator 3: Youth Resilience.

The Community Health Needs Assessment states that, “some experts believe that many youth in our community are disconnected or simply trying to survive (p.45).” Administratively we are consistently looking for ways to engage and connect our students in three ways: 1) connecting them to their faith, 2) connecting them to their education, and 3) connecting them to each other. In a society where technological advances have created the dichotomy of physical presence but emotional loneliness, we find it of the utmost importance to prioritize these three relational connections. The MMP serves to connect students to their education by exposing them to the academic areas they are most interested in pursuing in college. Our programming and robotics classes serve the same purposes within our STEM program.

Level Of Interest: The school determined the MMP interest level by distributing electronic surveys in December 2018 and February 2019 via Survey Monkey. Both surveys revealed more classes in health sciences to be the most desired academic area of interest in our school.  By providing classes of stated interest we believe students will be better connected and interested in their education, thus keeping them from the temptations of depression and directly affecting indicator 2. Furthermore, a priority of the MMP is to have small class sizes, between 16-25 students. When students are better connected to their adult teachers, they are less afraid to fail with difficult subjects and situations because they know their teachers will be there to support them and, more importantly, push them to high but achievable expectations and hold them accountable for their behaviors in safe and supportive way. This accountability extends to all parts of adolescent behavior including drug and alcohol use, suicide ideation, violence, crime, academic dishonesty, and high-risk sexual practices.

On a side note, St. Michael’s is the only school in Santa Fe that performs random drug testing of its students. Dozens of national studies have shown that the less a student uses drugs and alcohol between ages 12–19, the less likely they are to develop addictions later in life. We expect to have a strict drug testing policy in the MMP. 

Is There a National Need For This Program?

  1. According to a January 2018 blog article by, there are “2.4 million STEM jobs that will go unfilled this year.” Additionally, the article goes on to say that STEM is important—frankly, because it pays more—and as educators and parents, we have a responsibility to educate our students for well-paying jobs in the future. According to the same article, “The median earning for all non-STEM jobs in the country is $19.30/hour. The average median hourly wage for STEM jobs? $38.85. Some quick math says STEM jobs pay $19.55, or about 99% more than all others. Tech giants are going to extremes to pay for this scarce talent.” This article substantiates the need for our program because is states well-paying jobs in the future are in STEM and the labor force is not equipped for those jobs. The STEM and MMP at St. Michael’s will address this need. The article is here:
  2. In an article in US News & World Report, written in 2012 (yes, 2012) by John Engler, the President of Business Roundtable and former governor of Michigan, Engler cites many studies about the need for STEM. Engler quotes a recent study by the Lemselson-MIT Invention Index, which gauges innovation aptitude among young adults. The study went on to say that 60 percent of young adults (ages 16–25) named at least one factor that prevented them from pursuing further education or work in the STEM fields. Thirty-four percent said they don’t know much about the fields, a third said they were too challenging, and 28 percent said they were not well-prepared at school to seek further education in these areas. The article goes on quote another study by the Change the Equation, an organization that supports STEM education, which states that there are 3.6 unemployed workers for every job in the United States. That compares with only one unemployed STEM worker for two unfilled STEM jobs throughout the country. In other words, according to Raytheon Chairman and CEO William Swanson at a recent Massachusetts STEM Summit last fall, “Too many students and adults are training for jobs in which labor surpluses exist and demand is low, while high-demand jobs, particularly those in STEM fields, go unfilled.” This article substantiates the need for our program, stating that too many students these days are just not exposed to STEM fields early enough in their educational journeys. So much so that if St. Michael’s was a K–12 school, we should be starting STEM education in 1st grade. Our program at St. Michael’s addresses the need for STEM education starting in 9th grade. The article is here:
  3. CNN Business published an article by Parija Kavilanz in May 2018 about how the United States cannot keep up with the demand for health aides, nurses, and doctors. The article goes on to say, “The US will need to hire 2.3 million new health care workers by 2025 in order to adequately take care of its aging population, a new report finds.” The article quotes Jason Narlock, a senior consultant with Mercer, a health care staffing consultancy. Narlock goes on to say, “Few other industries are racing the clock to find a future-ready workforce like today’s health care administrators.” An interesting graph in the article shows the need for 446,300 home health aids, 98,700 medical and lab technologist and technicians, 95,000 nursing assistants, and 29,400 nurse practitioners by the year 2025. The MMP at St. Michael’s specifically addresses the need for more health care workers, not only nationally but in our home city of Santa Fe. The MMP will better prepare a larger “crop” of health care workers earlier in their careers, increasing the number of health care workers in our community and nation within 6–10 years, which is where the shortage will begin to hit its peak (2025). The article is here:
  4. In 2017 ACT published a report called The State of STEM in your state (NM). Only 29% of New Mexico students met college readiness benchmarks in math, 28% in science, and 12% in STEM. This compares to 38%, 37%, and 19% in the same categories for the neighboring state of Colorado. The study goes on to say New Mexico’s STEM educator pipeline is in serious danger. Only 18 students in the entire state planned to enter Math Education and only nine for Science education. The report can be found by clicking here:

Highlights: St. Michael’s motto is “Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve.” Students hear this on the first day they walk in the building as 7th graders. While our students serve in our community in a number of ways, here are three we find the most interesting:

  1. Blood Drives. Our school sponsors 2–3 blood drives through Vitalant (formerly UBS) every school year. In the 2018–2019 school year the school has already hosted two drives and exceed the drive goal by nearly 20% each time. Vitalant consistently praises our school for participation in our blood drives.
  2. Community Service. Our students are afforded the opportunity to take a class called “Service Learning” during the school year. It is one of our most popular electives and also serves as a Theology requirement. Service Learning has two “arms.” One arm is in the local public schools, and the other is in the community at local nonprofits that serve marginalized communities. This year, for example, we’ve had over 50 students volunteer every day of the trimester from 2:15–3:30 PM at organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., The Food Depot, The Habitat for Humanity Restore, Christ Church, and The Santa Fe Animal Shelter (to name a few). The goal of our Service Learning programs are to develop students who are service minded, not just to rack up service hours. We estimate our students have contributed over 3,000 hours of community service this school year alone, and we still have eight weeks left in the school year. What is more important to our school, and the highlight, is that our students consistently tell us after the class is over that they intend to continue serving at their locations through the summer because they feel so good about the work they have completed in Santa Fe. Again, it’s about being service minded, not accumulating service hours.
  3. SWAT. SWAT is an acronym for Student Wellness Action Team. Many schools in Santa Fe have SWAT clubs that encourage positive and healthy peer-to-peer decisions such as anti-drinking and anti-drug use campaigns, suicide prevention and mental health awareness, and feeding the hungry and housing the homeless initiatives. The SWAT program at St. Michael’s is larger in participation members than every other school’s club combined.

MMP Course Descriptions

Medical Ethics: Medical ethics is considered an honors science elective and required class for students in the Medical Magnet Program at St. Michael’s High School. Students will explore and study the major ethical issues confronting the practices of medicine and biomedical science in various health care settings. Students will become familiar with legal and institutional positions, consider and debate opposing arguments on various topics, and examine relevant case studies.  The course develops philosophical knowledge centered on ethical awareness, ethical knowledge, and skill.  Students will be introduced to and challenged by several traditional moral theories. Topics may include: euthanasia, modern fertility interventions, treatment of impaired newborns, mental illness, use of animals in research, professional ethical codes, scarce resources, genetic engineering, inter-cultural issues, economics (ability to pay and insurance), the doctor-patient relationship, truth telling, abortion, medical experimentation, justice and the health care system, and biotechnology.

Medical Terminology: Medical terminology is considered a required science elective and required class for students in the Medical Magnet Program at St. Michael’s High School. Students will study the language of medicine and gain an understanding of the basic elements and rules of building and analyzing medical words and medical terms associated with the body as a whole.  The course is designed to introduce students to the structure of medical terms, including prefixes, suffixes, word roots, singular and plural forms, and medical abbreviations. The course allows students to achieve comprehension of medical vocabulary appropriate to medical procedures, human anatomy, pathology, diagnosis, clinical procedures, and physiology.  



"Dr. Smith inspired me and introduced me to a subject I never thought I would be interested in.

Going into this class, I did not want to be a doctor. But now, because of Dr.Smith, it is all I think


-1st Cohort Student in MMP