CASTLE ROCK – In December 2019, 16 Douglas County School District (DCSD) students completed the inaugural pre-apprenticeship course offered at the newly-opened Arapahoe Community College (ACC) Sturm Collaboration Campus.
Officially titled “HPR 123: Allied Health Pre-Apprenticeship,” the course is a collaboration between ACC, DCSD, and Centura Health to help students learn about opportunities in the healthcare field through a combination of academic lectures and hands-on experience. Students shadow entry-level occupations such as Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Phlebotomist, and Medical Lab Technician at the Castle Rock Adventist and Parker Adventist Hospitals.
“It gave me the opportunity to ask a lot of questions,” says Kate Cronin, a senior at Castle View High School. “Now I know what I want to do.”
A key part of the course was the real-life interactions students had while working directly with various healthcare professionals.
“In my opinion, experience is the best teacher,” says Mountain Vista High School Junior Cam Tillman, who wants to pursue a career in sports medicine.
Other students were surprised at the interconnectedness between different departments in a hospital.
Megan Phibbs, a senior at Douglas County High School, says, “There were different local communities like in the phlebotomy lab and the radiologists, but at the end of the day, it was a big realization for me that they were all working together for the patients.”
For many, the pre-apprenticeship course provided some much-needed direction and guidance.
“I never knew what I was meant to do,” says Riley Spotts, a senior at Mountain Vista High School. “I’m so grateful for great counselors, a great teacher, and this course specifically for helping me figure out what I want to do.”
Spotts will be a first-generation college student and has chosen to study pediatric speech pathology and communication disorders.
The course also helped students with their postsecondary plans. One student, Legend High School Junior Samantha Hansen, also earned her CNA certificate concurrently at ACC as a first step to becoming a Registered Nurse (RN). Other students chose to explore the career types offered in the ACC Healthcare Pathway -- Emergency Medical Services, Health Information Technology, Medical Laboratory Technology, Medical Office Technology/Medical Assistant, Nurse Aide, Nursing, and Physical Therapist Assistant.
Douglas County High School Counselor Amy Boyce connected several students with the pre-apprenticeship opportunity.
“The healthcare profession is so large,” says Boyce. “A lot of students don’t know what they want to do, but they know they want to help people. I always encourage students to spend some time volunteering so that you really know -- is this what you want to do?”
With collaborative offerings like HPR 123, DCSD students have the chance to explore their career interests in a real-life environment and to better understand the field before committing to expensive college-level classes.
“This program is going to open a lot of postsecondary avenues for students,” says Boyce.
DCSD high school students interested in the pre-apprenticeship course should meet with their school Counselor for more information.