Local resident Anthony Grosso has parlayed his passion for health and well-being into a full-time teaching position where he inspires high Del Norte High School students to pursue healthcare careers. It’s just one of many successes in the ongoing, collaborative effort to “Grow Our Own Health Workforce” in Del Norte County, a medically underserved area that struggles to recruit and retain healthcare professionals.
“Local healthcare employers and educators are working together to solve this challenge, and have signed onto a proclamation committing to providing classroom guest speakers, work based learning opportunities for youth, and to exploring and offering move up strategies for existing employees,” said Barbara Browning, of the California Center for Rural Policy (CCRP).
For several years, Browning has brought together local community collaborators and has played a critical role in a regional effort to rebuild the RN-to-BSH program at Humboldt State University.
Recent efforts include placing curriculum and materials in K-12 schools for youth to explore health-related careers, starting as early as kindergarten with dramatic play kits. Del Norte High School is offering a health-related Career Technical Education program (with Grosso’s help) and a Science Based Health Pathway (with teacher Gaile West’s help), both of which encourage youth to consider being doctors, nurses phlebotomist, pharmacy technicians and front office duties.
“One youth who has chosen to pursue a health career based on our work is Avery Hernandez, Browing said. “Since learning about the career from a guest speaker in her CTE Health Foundation class, Avery is planning on a career as a clinical lab scientist.”
At the same time, College of the Redwoods Del Norte has been a strong partner and, with significant support from Sutter Coast Hospital, is working to bring back the LVN to RN bridge program, which will help people advance their nursing career without leaving the area.
“This work is beginning to take on an exciting momentum of its own as we grow closer to the goal of building our health workforce from within,” Browning said.