During Career and Technical Education Month in February, the New Jersey Council on County Vocational Technical Schools is highlighting successful graduates of the county’s 21 vocational technical schools.
Jinal Patel attended the medical science program at Hudson County Schools of Technology’s County Prep High School.
After graduating in 2014, Patel attended Kean University, where she majored in psychology and minored in biology. She went on to earn her doctor of physical therapy from Kean. She works as a physical therapy student at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange in the inpatient hospital setting.
Patel said the foundation of her success was built at County Prep High School.
“Everything that the school has to offer, from its fantastic faculty and educators, to the facility itself, innately sets its students up for achieving success,” she said. “The environment and culture at CPHS constantly encourages students to be open-minded, to share ideas freely, and to always think outside the box.”
Being in such a vitalizing surrounding, Patel said, fundamentally inspires students to want to do better, be better, and make a difference in the world around them.
“I am deeply thankful that this unique experience along with guidance from exceptional mentors led me to where I am today,” Patel said. “Faculty within the Medical Science department provided unmatched educational experiences.”
Patel said the school provided her with opportunities to participate in local, regional, and state competitions and events such as the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA).
“They encouraged participation in research projects, and aided in the exploration of career choices within the field of healthcare,” she said. “Even more, they remained a constant source for guidance after graduation. These individualized efforts collectively shaped my passion for healthcare and led me to choosing a career in physical therapy.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has been treating patients recovering from COVID-19.
“With the number of COVID-19 cases rising, there is a growing need for rehabilitation to help patients recover from COVID-related impairments including, but not limited to, musculoskeletal wasting, limited pulmonary function, integumentary concerns secondary to decreased mobility, cardiac abnormalities, difficulties with ambulation,” Patel said.
Recovery from COVID-19 is no easy feat, Patel said.
“It is a extensive journey that requires a multidisciplinary approach across the healthcare spectrum,” Patel said. “Providing treatment in these unchartered territories has certainly been quite an adjustment. Initially, the transition was overwhelming to say the least.”
Patel said she has learned to adapt to the new COVID-19 restrictions to continue providing care to her patients.
“With all the new regulations, social distancing guidelines, insurance changes, transitions to telehealth, personal changes associated with the pandemic, and sheer fatigue, providing quality care just seemed impossible,” Patel said.
“However, after surpassing the learning curve, everything began falling into place,” she said. “New norms were established, routines were solidified, family members adjusted, and teams at work became more efficient than ever before.”
Patel said she has also been volunteering at COVID-19 testing sites.
“Many fellow healthcare providers across the state also volunteered their weekends to similarly offer a helping hand,” Patel said. “Seeing this unity, solidarity, and pride for the field of medicine over the past few months has been awe-inspiring.”