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Avera Medical Minute: Avera Academy helps Sioux Falls high schoolers explore careers in healthcare

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 6:53 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - More healthcare workers are always needed, so Avera Health is giving Sioux Falls high schoolers an opportunity to explore a possible career working in a hospital. The program is called the Avera Academy.

Class is in session at Avera McKennan Hospital.

“Today we’re going to labor and delivery, the NICU, peds. And we really get to see from the mother’s perspective, from the child’s perspective, and from the healthcare workers’ perspectives,” said Ashley Elton, Avera Academy Student.

Sioux Falls high schoolers are exploring whether or not a career in healthcare is right for them. They are also figuring out where they best fit in.

“Most high school students think of hospitals as only doctors and nurses. The whole idea of the Avera academy is to show them all the different careers in healthcare which are hundreds of different types of careers,” said Shantel Krebs, Avera Academy Administrator.

Avera Academy offers 24 seniors in the Sioux Falls School District the opportunity to earn dual credit at Southeast Technical Institute.

“So they’ll graduate at the end of their senior year with 12 credits paid for by Avera,” said Krebs. “So they’ll be almost like I said a year into college with these credits.”

It’s also a fully-funded program.

“It’s designed specifically to target kids that are low income, first-generation Americans, those with a special family situation,” said Krebs.

Students who might not have the opportunity to pursue higher education.

“This program is hopefully launching them into healthcare and then healthcare within Avera. It’s a great pipeline and recruiting tool. We’ve found out that the response has been overwhelming,” said Krebs.

Four days a week are spent at Southeast Tech. working on coursework. Then Fridays are spent on the Avera campus learning about different career options.

“They get to see hands-on, interact with staff, ask them and what we’re trying to do is to make sure these young students go into the right field and correct field,” said Krebs.

By the end, students will have visited around 40 different departments.

“It’s been an amazing experience so far... We got to see kind of a meniscus removal at the new hospital. It was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen,” said Tyshann Taite, Avera Academy Student.

When Elizabeth West went through the program a year ago, it completely changed her career goals. She’s now an ultrasound student at Southeast Tech.

“A message I would give to the future students is, be open-minded. There’s just so much that you might be interested in that you might not have been before and just keep your mind open to all the possibilities that are offered to you,” said West.

It’s the same reason Mayra Galicia is participating in the program this year. She wants to be a nurse but is indecisive on what unit she wants to work in.

“Pediatrics has been one of my top choices. So I guess this is just a step in the door to see if I really want to go into peds or not. So I’m really looking forward to the rest of this rotation because it will give me a good experience and a good touch to see what it feels like to be behind the scenes,” said Galicia.

It’s an opportunity these students are grateful to be given to ensure they have a successful future in health care.

For more information head to Avera.org.

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