Health care heroes spark interest for teens looking into medical fields

Originally aired on KARE-TV - December 24, 2020

You've heard the saying, "not all heroes wear capes."

It seems like they wear scrubs and face shields instead. After an incredibly tough year, Minnesota teens are being inspired by their acts of bravery.

"It's just taking on a whole new level of interest for students because it's the here and now. You know, the real world, what's going on," said Reba Leither. She teaches health care exploration and medical terminology at the Minnesota Virtual Academy.

Leither says she's seeing an influx of students joining their Destination Career Academy, a tuition-free program that combines core academics with career-focused electives. The program courses are taught online by licensed teachers from Minnesota.

Leither explained, "students are going to be able to get a lot of knowledge base before going to college, possibly saving them time and money coming into it."  Meaning, the teens will already have an idea of what they're getting involved with when entering a university program. Plus, it could lower the chance the students will drop courses if they're not fully invested or interested.

Leither mentioned other advantages for students. "They also will have more opportunities to get certifications that they may not get in their local area."

There are several pathways offered in the Health and Human Services career academy:

  • Medical Assisting—Students develop the knowledge base, skills, and behaviors that entry-level medical assistants need to succeed. Students are introduced to anatomy and physiology, diagnostic tests, diseases and disorders, treatments, and nutrition, as well as personal growth topics such as professionalism, teamwork, and time management.
  • Nursing Assisting (CNA)—This pathway prepares students to work in medical settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics.
  • Pharmacy Technician—This pathway prepares students to work in medical settings such as hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and labs.

In some cases, older students are applying their knowledge in the field by getting jobs at local nursing homes.

"These are the people I want to help me when I'm older, to give me medical advice," said Leither.

Minnesota Virtual Academy is open to any student who lives in the state of Minnesota. It's just like a regular public school.

Even if a student isn't enrolled full time, they can take this elective course online.

To learn more about Minnesota Virtual Academy, visit

KEYWORDS: Online Education, career learning, Career Readiness, Health Science, healthcare, Minnesota

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