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That's why she has already put the Certified Nursing Assistant certificate she's earned at Holland to work at a nursing home.
She compiled the results into her HOSA contest entry, along with a long list of service hours, essays about her future in the medical business and Power Point presentations. That earned national recognition and a nice resume line for her future medical school application.
Watts has earned the same CNA certification, but it's just a step toward the career she really wants in forensic pathology, perhaps performing autopsies or crime scene investigations.
The next day Bridgestock would examine the sprouting cultures in a microscope and scour her textbooks to find pictures that matched.
"All my classmates want to know," said Bridgestock, who attends Holland for a half day and takes other courses at Abilene High School.
coli on Abilene menus
But the results from two Abilene restaurants, which she wouldn't reveal, shocked her most.
the vocabulary to describe the evidence at the mock crime scene. They noticed cyanosis, the blue face indicating the woman died from asphyxiation. They recognized livor mortis, the purplish skin discoloration on her back where the blood pooled when she died, suggesting the body had been moved.
Not only did high school senior Michelle Bridgestock earn national recognition with her study of bacteria on menus in Abilene restaurants, but it might shock you into changing your habits when eating out.
The partners were sent to look over a "still body" sprawled on the ground.
She repeated the process for 12 local restaurants, and she admits the results "kinda grossed me out."
One restaurant's menu revealed traces of E. coli. Another had staph bacteria.
"I've always loved Nancy Drew and watching CSI, but I never want to do it in real life," Garcia said. "I prefer my people alive."
The witness at the mock crime scene told them she had accidentally driven over the body, mistakenly thinking it was a trash bag.
little more real world when they got to McAllen for the state competition.
Both can cause serious infections. E. Omega Speedmaster Mark 2
While that scene seemed realistic, Garcia never wants it to get any more real than that.
So in December, the aspiring doctor started eating out a lot. In her purse, she stashed rubber gloves and sterile cotton swabs provided to her by Hendrick Medical Center, which partners with Holland.
"It was a homicide," said Watts, exuding confidence. They wrote a 100 word medical report and became the third best high school forensics medicine team in the state. The top three teams will go to the national HOSA conference in Nashville in June.
Every menu but one revealed traces of bacteria. Most of it comes from dirt, she said, but there is a slight possibility it could have come from contact with microbial fecal material that someone had on their hands.
"You would never guess which restaurants were bad," she said, refusing to tell any of the names. That's part of the ethics report she had to write as part of her HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) contest entry. Since the restaurants didn't know she was taking the swabs, she'll keep them a secret.
VonDrea Garcia and Sara Watts qualified for the Texas HOSA meet by taking a test online about forensic medicine, but things got a Omega Seamaster 120 Multifunction
After the waitress dropped off the menus, she'd snap on her gloves, swab the menu surface and slip the swab stick into a preservative tube without being seen. The next day, she'd tote them into the microbiology lab at Hendrick. Her mentor, microbiologist Pam Hale, helped her transfer the swab samples into petri dishes and put them in an incubator so the bacteria could grow overnight.
coli, when trapped in the upper gastrointestinal track, can cause vomiting, diarrhea and bloody stool.
But Garcia and Watts, who had been studying their forensic textbooks, knew better.
"When you go to a hospital, you expect a lot of germs so you clean a lot," she said. "But when you go out to eat, you don't think about it. Sanitation is important wherever you are. Wash your hands after using the menu."
But she admits it hasn't been easy.
Bridgestock needed a medical research project for her independent study course at Omega Seamaster Professional Nato Strap Holland Medical High School in Abilene when she started contemplating how much bacteria festers on the menus we all handle right before we eat.
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Most importantly, she learned her way around a professional medical lab and discovered the importance of cleanliness in community health.
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