COVID-19 pandemic inspiring health care interest among students

The COVID-19 pandemic is inspiring high school students to join the medical field.

Educators say more students are showing interest in nursing programs.

Trinity is a 15-year-old high school student attending Minnesota Virtual Academy, one of the largest public online k-12 schools in the state, with enrollment topping 2600 students, nearly half of them starting this year.

"I want to become a therapist or do something in the pharmacy field," Trinity said.

She’s part of the health and human service pathway through Stride Career Prep, a program within the virtual academy.

"We’re talking about COVID a lot in those classes and I think it’s cool to learn about," she said.

Teachers say healthcare classes are drawing a lot more interest in the school this year thanks to the pandemic.

"It’s (COVID) really generated a lot of interest in the pathway," said Reba Leither.

Leither teaches many of the 93 students who have chosen the health care pathway.

"You can tell that they are really interested in it and you can connect so much right now to what they’re learning," she said.

Leither says the opportunities these high school students are getting can lead to medical certificates while still taking general education classes, which will save them money.

"They’re deciding what they like and what they don’t like before they are spending thousands of dollars on college," Leither said.

It’s not the only pathway growing in popularity with Minnesota Virtual Academy students.

"Probably one of the more interesting ones is heavy machinery because within that pathway, students can actually earn hours toward an apprenticeship," said Head of Schools for Minnesota Virtual Academy, Krin Abraham.

Abraham says students build those heavy machinery hours learning on simulators.

"Knowing what a crane does, what the earthmovers do, realizing that if they take too big of a scoop virtually there crane tips over," she explained.

Adding, it gives students a leg up once they graduate, not only in this career choice but the very popular health care world as well.