TULIA, TX (KFDA) - Students across the panhandle are getting the opportunity to take medical courses thanks to a program called Gateway.
Gateway is bringing health science classes into schools which otherwise would not be able to provide those courses,
The program is offered through Amarillo's ACAL School. It was designed to increase the health care workforce in rural communities. Students learn a combination of health science skills through distance learning and hands on clinic experience.
"The program is excellent. I think it shows you what it is like to know how to save a life and to know what you should expect when you go to college," said Tulia High School student Micheala Villegas.
Becoming a registered nurse is Villegas' top priority and she says Gateway is giving her a head start in achieving her goal.
"It is important we know core values of health medical terms and know CPR because once you apply for a nursing school they are going to look and see if you know those terms," Villegas said. "If you don't know those terms, schools are probably not going to accept you."
One goal of Gateway is to train students in their communities so they can volunteer at their local hospital.
"It's really a grass roots effort on how can we grow our own," said Gateway Coordinator Jean Whitehead. "If we can get health care workers in these communities they tend to stay in the communities and work there at a greater rate than if they train somewhere else."
Students who participate have a chance to graduate as a certified medical assistant, an EKG assistant or with an EMT certificate.
Gateway is currently offered in 10 panhandle schools including Tulia, Canadian and Spearman.
ACAL is in the process of expanding the program to 8 more schools.