SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ — Each year up to 20 Combs High School students graduate, not only with their high school diploma, but with their Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) credentials allowing them to start working immediately.
“About 80 to 85 percent (of the students) pass the state exam at the end of the course and most of those students enter the workforce right away as CNAs,” said Career and Technical Education Director John Scrogham.
In 2017, Izabella Careaga took the CNA two-year program in high school and was the first student to intern at a family practice in Queen Creek all while completing her senior year.
“I loved it. And it was really nice I was able to see if that was what I wanted to do in the long run, trying to find out where I wanted to end up as a career,” added the now 21-year-old Careaga.
Scrogham says CTE programs, like the one at Combs, are proving to be key in getting high school students to start a career with little to no-debt.
“The credentials they receive through the program would have cost between $4,000 to $5,000 if they were doing the training after high school,” added Scrogham.
Careaga says her internship at Premier Family Practice turned into a full time job and now 4 years later she’s doing exactly what the CTE program is supposed to do... propel them onto more career growth.
"I am enrolled at Chamberlain University for nursing school. Ultimately I want to be a nurse practitioner,“ said Careaga.
Careaga is working hand-in-hand with nurse practitioners learning the demands of the job and the path others at her medical office have taken to achieve their career goals.
“And hearing their stories helps me get motivated to get to that end goal where they are at,” added Careaga.
Now, the school district’s goal is to find a registered nurse to become its CNA director, due to the current administrator's retirement.
District officials say the most difficult part of the search is finding some who is qualified and willing to leave the private sector in exchange for a lower teaching salary.
If you are interested in the position at Combs High School, you can apply here.