Medical Programs Available to Students


GHS students getting ready to go inot the OR, photo taken by GVH employee

Lee Brunsting, Editor

As of January 11th 2023, students from Gunnison and Crested Butte High Schools have had the new opportunity to be taught in the medical field.  The Medical Pathways Program is in addition to the pre-existing Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Medical Assistant (MA) programs that Gunnison students also have access to. The Medical Pathways Program is an educational course that is run through a partnership between Gunnison’s Pathways Program which is part of Gunnison High School (GHS), and Gunnison Valley Health. Pathways allows students to pursue classes through a non-traditional setting such as this program. Because these opportunities are provided through this program and the Gunnison Hospital, these courses are free of charge. The classes are held each Wednesday in the evenings and will continue until April 12th when students will participate in a graduation ceremony with their classmates and their families. 

The process that students went through to enroll was parent and participant consent and signature along with specific permission signings for an EMS ride along and use of a photo for a medical badge. Each individual is provided with a medical badge and a Gunnison Valley Health shirt.

 Each week, students are guided through two different rotations throughout the majority of specialties that are available in our local Gunnison Hospital. Each class is taught by experts in a said field, and students are encouraged to ask questions throughout the practice and have the opportunity to have hands-on learning with sterile tools, mannequins, and fake scenarios. Up to this point students have explored the fields of microbiology, multiple operating and surgical rooms, cardiovascular, family birth centers, radiology, and oncology with many more specialties yet to come. There are more than 10 upcoming courses including behavioral health, EMS ride-alongs, primary care, hospice, and infection prevention. This program is a wonderful opportunity for young people who are unsure of their future career path to test the water of the healthcare field to see if this profession would be right for them. Joelle Ashley is the event coordinator at Gunnison Valley Health; she partners with Bobbie Hamblin who is the marketing assistant, and Jason Amrich, the CEO of Gunnison Valley Health to make this program available to students.

Along with this medical program there are two more additional courses available to GHS students that are run solely through the Pathways program which is directed by Chad Terry who was instrumental to getting the programs up and running. One of the two programs is the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program which is available to high achieving sophomores, juniors and seniors. This program has been running for three years now. This semester-long curriculum has two class periods a day that are located in the Pathways building which is a part of the GHS campus. This semester there are five GHS students enrolled. The second course is the Medical Assistant (MA) program which is year long and has three class periods a day. 2023 is this program’s first year with the assumption that it will continue for years to come. Participants in this course will work under a doctor’s license. This year there are six students enrolled. The first semester is usually geared around academic work with the second semester focusing on internship hours which are done in the different medical facilities in the Gunnison valley.  Both of these classes are in conjunction with Technical College of the Rockies (TCR) who helps to fund these programs. TCR is a well known and highly sought after college on the western slope and is located in Delta County. When a student of GHS enrolls in these classes they are also becoming a college student at TCR. Per state law the school district of the student has to pay tuition in addition to the student having to pay for textbooks, fees, etc. 

In these classes students will learn the skills, competencies to be a certified nursing assistant. Students will be prepared to take the state board exam at the end of their courses to become certified to work in the medical field in Colorado and to get their medical license. With these new qualifications, students will be able to be directly employed in any hospital, medical, or long term care facility as a certified nursing assistant. Currently there is a high demand for employees of not only the local but the state’s medical field. Most students wish to move on into medical school or to specialize in the various professions in health care. 

Several months were taken to build these courses, since these are hybrid programs the students do a fraction of their work online with the other being lab hours. For these in person hours GVH has provided students a lab space in the old senior care center. TCR has also sent up employees to help run these labs. This year, TCR has hired local medical professionals like CNAs or nurses to assist in the labs. The community comes together to help the cogs move for these aspiring young professionals. This jump start to their careers is extremely helpful and is greatly appreciated across the board.