TUCSON (KVOA) - Students who have a passion for the health care industry are finding their way to that career through Pima JTED Joint Technical Education District.
It is a profession that needs people now, more than ever because of the pandemic.
Right now, Tucson Medical Center employs about 300 former Pima JTED students who found their calling while they were in high school.
"It's really hard for me to see these people are struggling like the nurses and doctors are struggling," Riley Kanoza said.
Kanoza cannot wait to step in and help them. By the end of June, she along with 300 other JTED students will be graduating. They will have completed their clinicals, and certifications.
She is going into nursing.
"I really like the aspect of helping people," Kanoza said. "I love to comfort people when they are down or help them out when they are in a bad place. I feel like that's what the nursing career is really helping people "
Beth Francis can identify with that.
She has been a nurse for over three decades. For the last 13 years, she has been the Health Care Professions Manager at Pima JTED helping students to answer their call in the health profession.
She said prior to the pandemic they noticed certain essential workers were needed such as " phlebotomy, and EKG, and medical scribe. Individuals who understand the medical record."
Then the pandemic hit and the need became even greater. The state was going to need about 20 percent more pharmacy technicians.
"And that's due to the additional roles that have been added to the pharm tech," she said. "These individuals will now be able to administer vaccinations which had not been in their scope of practice."
So JTED will be expanding its health care curriculum to include pharm techs in 2022.
In the meantime, this past year has been challenging since the students have been learning remotely. It is only been recently, they have been able to go into the classroom.
"It's definitely been a hard adaptation, especially when we're supposed to be in clinicals now," Kanoza said. "But with COVID, we can't be in a clinical setting, so it's been different."
Different for the teachers, as well.
Kanoza said it is important to keep in mind to "have a successful year with these young people so they can get out in the industry and help our health care force that is out there fighting this pandemic."
The program has a 92 percent success rate and many of the students go onto to college and get their nursing degrees. Some have gotten master's degrees.
Kanoza said she plans to work part-time in nursing while getting her degree.
For more information, visit PimaJTED.org.