The Colorado Health Careers Collaborative hosted the 2nd Colorado Health Careers Academy this June and July. This year, the Academy was held at four locations across the Denver Metro Area: ACC’s Littleton Campus and Sturm Collaboration Campus at Castle Rock and CCD’s Lowry and Auraria Campuses.
While we normally get to hear about the student learning experience, we want to shine some light on the dedicated instructors who are spending their summer helping youth navigate careers in healthcare.
Below, we talk to 4 Academy instructors, Susan Falzone (SF); Theilah Lindsay (TL); Dan Marzullo (DM); and Julia Porterfield (JP):
What interested you in being an instructor for the Colorado Health Careers Academy?
SF: It seemed the best use of my two life careers: Healthcare and Teaching. Also, I am passionate about introducing youth to the healthcare field. We need ALL of them!
TL: After working with Bri Barnes-Eldert on another project and wanting to be an influence on tomorrow’s healthcare professionals, I decided to apply.
DM: The opportunity to be involved in the career development of these young professionals as they explore their interests and aspirations. It’s been an incredible privilege assisting them in every step of their career journey: resume writing, interview practice, and applying for various opportunities.
JP: I have been in healthcare for the last 21 years and have loved every moment of it. This position allows me to share the healthcare industry with young adults while also showing them that you don’t need to start at a 4-year college in order to excel in your healthcare career.
What healthcare topic do you enjoy discussing with Academy students the most, and why?
SF: Preparing for the job: interview skills, resume building, cover letter creation, work skills, etc.
TL: Any topic, although, the KP Pharmacy Technician Apprentice program is my passion. Mainly, it is to assist the students in making better career path decisions and avoid the pitfalls I’ve made along my career journey.
DM: I've enjoyed discussing the job duties for each position, and the virtual job shadows were the highlight. They provided students with an in-depth look at "a day in the life" of each role.
JP: The variety of patient-facing careers that exist in the healthcare industry that don't require 8+ years of higher education and large student loan debt. I started my higher education at Arapahoe Community College immediately after high school. I truly enjoy sharing my own journey to a Master’s degree in Science as well as teaching the students about stackable degrees that allow them to work while excelling in their careers.
What should students consider when deciding if the Academy is right for them?
SF: If they have even the least bit of interest in healthcare, or if they are unsure if healthcare is the career field for them, then the Academy is the very best place to get the information they need to decide. Also, completion gives them $500 in a 529 to use for any career they want!
TL: If they can get out of bed in the morning, and have a good attitude, they can do anything. It’s for them to find a career path that interests them and investigate. Learn as much about that career as possible, even asking for information interviews with someone they know.
DM: If they're interested in healthcare opportunities but unsure where to begin, the Academy is the perfect choice. It offers a great opportunity to explore in-demand positions that can be pursued with an Associate’s degree or less than two years of schooling.
JP: The academy is a great introductory look into the healthcare field at both the direct and indirect patient-care levels. If you are an individual that wants to know what a typical day is like in a hospital or outpatient setting from the support staff perspective, this academy is for you. Additionally, the program provides ample opportunities to connect with hospitals and clinics within the Denver area to network with hiring managers and locate opportunities to start your healthcare career BEFORE you graduate from high school.
How do you keep students engaged in the classroom?
SF: Their participation – they are adults, and adults learn best and are most engaged by ‘doing’, not listening.
TL: I include them on the decision-making about our schedule for the day. For example, the time for a classroom activity may state ‘x’ and I will ask if they want more time with the activity or move on to the next subject and spend more time there. This helps me treat them as ‘colleagues’ and not students.
DM: I strive to use real-world examples and scenarios to emphasize the significance of discussions and classroom activities for the students' understanding.
JP: Our most passionate conversations are those surrounding how students can get experience now while still in high school. We also talk at length about how to utilize stackable certifications and degrees to offset student loans. Most of our class discussions I supply real life examples of individuals that I have worked with or know that are currently in the position we have reviewed in our online modules.
What has been the biggest “aha” moment for students navigating careers in healthcare?
SF: It is different for each student. Some are surprised by the duties and responsibilities of a career they knew little about. Others are surprised by the salaries. Still others are surprised by the demand for a particular job.
TL: Opportunities for them are more open to them than they think.
DM: After experiencing virtual job shadows and witnessing the day-to-day reality of certain career pathways, students are expressing interest in options they had not previously considered.
JP: That you don’t have to be a physician or nurse to make a difference in a patient’s health journey.
What is your favorite summer treat?
SF: ICE CREAM!
TL: Being outdoors in the sunshine.
DM: Chocolate Ice Cream
JP: Long sunny days and having my kids home.
To learn more about the Colorado Health Careers Collaborative, including the Colorado Health Careers Academy, visit our website.