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Paradise Valley’s Health Careers Program lays foundation for future nurses


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Photo Courtesy Paradise Valley Unified School District

High school is a time for students to discover their passions and interests. Some students may already know which path they will take while others are still unsure.

To help students explore possible career paths, they can take a variety of electives that are available through Career and Technical Education (CTE). Nursing is just one of the 17 CTE programs available and is offered at Paradise Valley High School.

Paradise Valley's Health Careers Program lays foundation for future nurses nursing-azhp

Photo courtesy Paradise Valley Unified School District

Nursing and other healthcare careers will always be in high demand and offer a wide range of specialties to practice.

Students who wish to explore the healthcare field can begin their path by with the Health Career Program at Paradise Valley High School.

The program, which has been offered at the school since 1983, provides students with hands-on experience while gaining practical skills.

“I am proud that PVSchools has the highest high school pass rate for Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) examination in the state. Our pass rate for 2015 was 92 percent for knowledge and 96 percent for skills,” said Allison Latzo, MSN, RN, Health Care Academy Instructor at Paradise Valley High School.

To enroll in the Health Careers Program, students must first take Biology as a prerequisite. Chemistry has to be taken either prior or concurrently with the health care courses. Students who are interested in a career in the healthcare industry are encouraged to take higher-level math and science courses in addition to healthcare science and anatomy and physiology.

These classes give students the foundation on which to build as they pursue healthcare careers. Students learn  infection control guidelines and are certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) prior to participating in the clinical setting. Students explore many healthcare careers and are given opportunities to enhance their knowledge and help gain entry into a college program.

Out of the seniors graduating this year, 14 will pursue post-secondary degrees in the healthcare profession. The graduates will attend Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, Grand Canyon University, University of Michigan, University of Northern Colorado and Paradise Valley Community College in the fall.

“Incoming freshman should know that our program is highly rated, and we have partnerships with hospitals, college and postgraduate programs for healthcare professionals. We have wonderful mentors for our students, which include pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians, nutritionists, physical and occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, nurses, doctors, radiology technicians and lab technicians,” Latzo said.

“We are members of Future Health Professionals (HOSA), the American Red Cross, the Anthony Bates Foundation and the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation. There are opportunities through these classes to network and connect with others who are also interested in health careers. Additionally, students can apply to  volunteer at Abrazo Scottsdale Hospital and with Hospice of the Valley,” said Mrs. Latzo.

Paradise Valley's Health Careers Program lays foundation for future nurses PVHS-CTE-Nursing

Photo Provided by PVSchools

The Health Care Assistant course gives students the opportunity to complete the CNA curriculum and graduate high school as a CNA.

The program at Paradise Valley High School is very competitive due to the supervision required and the number of clinical areas available to the students.

Students interested in applying to the program should take the Health Care Science course if it is offered at their high school.

Attendance is also a key factor in being accepted into the program since there are a limited number of spaces.

Preceptors give up their time to help out  and teach students, so it’s expected that all students attend class and clinical rotation days.

The Health Careers Program has been so successful that Abrazo Scottsdale is partnering with the school to build a bridge program to allow Paradise Valley High School students to train for open positions with Abrazo Scottsdale.

“One of the best moments a teacher can have is seeing the passion in a student and experiencing a moment through their eyes. One of my former students was lucky enough to see a birth at clinical and when she came to me at the end of the day, she was bursting with excitement. She hugged me and said, ‘I found what I want to do for the rest of my life today.’ That was such a great moment to be able to share. That student is currently enrolled in the traditional Nursing Program at ASU and is on the Dean’s List,” said Mrs. Latzo.