Southern Colorado student, aspiring nurse steps up as pandemic surges

Coronavirus

SAGUACHE, Colo. — As the coronavirus continues to spread across the nation, the strain felt in hospitals does not just come from bed capacity issues, but also staff shortages.

Dr. David Steinbruner, Chief Medical Officer for UC Health Memorial Hospital Central tells FOX21, hospitals rely on schools to bring new hands on deck.

At a unique online public K-12 school, healthcare is the most popular pathway.

At Colorado Destinations Career Academy (CODCA), students get a jump-start on their college and career goals while completing their high school requirements. 

At CODCA, students can begin career exploration and readiness as early as middle school.

“We designed our Pathways to allow students to jump in and begin course work very quickly,” said Dr. Sherri Wilson, DNP, RN.

It’s an online public school option, where students can choose different pathways, like information technology, business, and health and human services. Nursing and pharmaceutical tech through their health and human services pathway are the most popular.

One Saguache student’s background truly illustrates how far she has come and how CODCA may have attributed to her success. In August of 2016, Raina Ward collapsed and was flown by Flight for Life from a hospital in Alamosa to Colorado Children’s Hospital in Aurora.

She was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, renal failure and anemia.

After this experience and her mother and aunt, both role models, inspired Raina to be a nurse.

After a year in a traditional high school, she decided to pursue a more career-focused program and enrolled in CODCA’s health and human services pathway.

Now, as Raina approaches her high school graduation, she’s picking up night shifts at a long-term care facility in Del Norte to get hands-on experience.

During this pandemic, she knows caring for those high-risk is valuable now more than ever.

“I just want to say I’m so proud of this young lady she sounds like a rock star,” said Dr. Wilson. “You can do it. It will get rough but you have already demonstrated the tenacity, to get though it even in high school.”

“Don’t go into the field because you make good money, go into the field because you really want to help people,” said Raina.

>> Tap here to learn more Colorado Destinations Career Academy.

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