2023 GLCA graduates who are now IU Health team members. Tanijah Taylor, second from the left; Connor Villalobos, third from the left; and Sydney Copeland, fifth from the left.
The next generation of Indiana healthcare professionals is getting an early start—beginning in high school. With projected shortages of healthcare workers over the next several years, training individuals early to fill these open positions is an important step in ensuring Hoosiers continue to have access to the care they need.
One way that IU Health is working to reduce this shortage while also helping students find their passion for healthcare is through a partnership with the Greater Lafayette Career Academy.
The Greater Lafayette Career Academy (GLCA) supports multiple school corporations in Tippecanoe County and offers programs for high school students that lead to in-demand certifications for positions like certified nursing assistant (CNA), medical assistant (MA) and emergency medical technician (EMT).
Through the partnership with IU Health, GLCA students get hands-on experience in a real-world healthcare setting during their studies through experiences like clinical rotations—and IU Health gets to build a connection with students who may want to join the IU Health team after graduation.
This year, 11 students from GLCA’s 2023 graduating class were hired by IU Health in patient care assistant, EMT and MA roles.
“The one thing that inspired me to work in healthcare is being able to help those in need and being able to help make someone feel better—even if all I can do is put a smile on their face,” says Tanijah Taylor, medical assistant at IU Health Arnett Hospital who graduated from GLCA this June.
Through the real-world experience students gain through GLCA, something that might be hard to come by in the average high school classroom, students are set up for success when they move into full-time roles or pursue further education.
“Having that hands-on experience has helped me boost my confidence when taking care of patients and relaying information to the patients,” says Taylor.
Connor Villalobos is another graduate of GLCA and an EMT with IU Health LifeLine. He was inspired to work in healthcare because of family members who work in a variety of emergency services. Through this program, Villalobos learned how to react to medical emergencies, patient care and so much more.
“This specific program also introduced to me new real-world examples of different types of medical emergencies and situations that I would never have been exposed to in a regular high school setting,” says Villalobos.
Graduates of GLCA have big plans for their futures. Villalobos is working to reach the rank of flight medic, while Taylor hopes to open her own practice one day.
“My future career goals are to become an orthopedic or transplant surgeon,” says Sydney Copeland, EMT with IU Health LifeLine and graduate of GLCA. “I hope to work as an EMT throughout my college and medical school years.”
It’s never too early or too late to become part of the healthcare field, whether starting in high school or switching careers later in life.
“Don't be afraid of trying something new,” advises Copeland. “There are a million different directions someone in the healthcare field can go.”