A native Spanish speaker, Espinoza initially took grammar classes at Howard Community College’s (HCC) English Language Center (ELC). When Espinoza told her ELC advisor that she wanted to become a nurse, her advisor recommended enrolling in the certified nursing assistant (CNA) and patient care technician (PCT) courses.
“I encourage anyone interested in health care to take the CNA and PCT courses,” says Espinoza. “It is the perfect first step into the field. The training gets you in the door.”
Espinoza loved the instructors and learning on the medical models. “Even though training was intense, my classmates and I had fun while we were learning,” she says. “There were eight students in my class. We are like family and keep in touch with each other. Three of us from my class now work at Johns Hopkins.”
After completing the CNA and PCT training, Espinoza attended a job fair hosted by HCC’s career services office, applied to and was accepted into the John Hopkins SOARING internship program. Once she finished her internship, Espinoza was hired as a patient care technician and started on February 2, 2020, right before the coronavirus pandemic began. The unit Espinoza worked in was converted to a COVID-19 unit. “As a PCT, I am responsible for many tasks in the hospital,” she says. “My training gave me the confidence that I needed. I feel like I have been working a lot longer than just over a year.”
Espinoza’s language skills helped her communicate with patients. “Throughout the pandemic, families weren’t able to visit their sick loved ones. I was happy I could translate for the Spanish-speaking patients, talk to them, and help them to understand their treatment,” she says.
Becoming a nurse is still Espinoza’s long-term goal. “I plan to continue taking classes at HCC this fall,” she says. “There is much more at HCC than I first realized. I was really surprised at how many resources are available.”
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