April 17, 2020

High school students prepare for careers in the medical field

by ASHLEY CULLINANE, NBC 10 NEWSWednesday, April 15th 2020

PROVIDENCE, RI (WJAR) — As the country races to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, states are calling on retired healthcare workers and college students to join the frontlines.

In Rhode Island, some high school students are also experiencing life in the healthcare field during a pandemic. Dr. Pamela McCue is the CEO of the Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College Charter High School in Providence.

“There are some of our high school students working in nursing homes as CNAs,” McCue said.

A registered nurse by profession, McCue opened the school in 2011, and it became the first charter high school in the country dedicated to nursing and the healthcare field. McCue said Rhode Island needed a pipeline program. McCue said Rhode Island needed a pipeline program.

“A nursing shortage has always been looming over the industry. It’s not just the number of nurses, it’s the composition of the workforce,” she said. “We need more diversity in our nursing workforce.”

Mariam Badaru, 18, is a senior at RINIMC.

“I want to be a pediatrician when I grow older, so this is a huge start to my career,” she said.

Badaru is following in the footsteps of her brother, an EMT who graduated from RINIMC, now working on the frontlines of the virus.

“It’s a little scary,” Badaru said.

Her mother is a CNA and her sister is a registered nurse.

“I’ve been inspired by my family,” Badaru said.

The senior will graduate with her CNA certification and plans to attend New England Institute of Technology.

“We have college classes at URI, Roger Williams, and CCRI,” Badaru said. “We either go to our college classes or we go to RINI and take a normal class.”

McCue said classes are rigorous and 90 percent of students graduate with three to six college credits and a workforce certificate.

“Our students, as early as 10th grade, are socialized into the professional healthcare workforce,” she said.

McCue said more than 90 percent of the nearly 300 graduates are attending colleges in Rhode Island. Half of those students, while attending college, are working in healthcare, she said. Close to two-dozen graduates are working as registered nurses in area hospitals.

But “real world” experience begins early on, through jobs and internships.

“We have first-hand opportunities to take care of patients,” Badaru said.

Badaru said she is not allowing the pandemic to discourage her from pursuing her dream career.

“Most people are scared of doing it. You should feel confident. You are being trained to do this: save people, help people,” she said.

RINIMC uses a lottery system to admit students each year.