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Rural Health Care Professionals

Western Technology Center’s nursing program in Burns Flat hopes to keep young health care professionals in the area to serve the aging population.
Rural Health Care Professionals

Rural Health Care Professionals

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Show Details

Show 1720: Rural Health Care Professionals
Air Date: May 14, 2017



Rob McClendon: Well, attracting health care professionals is often difficult in rural areas. But a program at a tech center in western Oklahoma hopes to change that by growing their own.

Rob McClendon: For high school senior Daci Sawyer, her after-school job is not just work.

Daci Sawyer: I like to help people, and I like to care for people, and I just thought it would be a good idea to help out any way I could with anybody.

Rob: Daci is a soon-to-be graduate of Western Technology Center’s nursing program and says working as a certified nursing assistant at the Veterans Center in Burns Flat is never dull and often rewarding.

Sawyer: And I love it. I like seeing the smiles on the residents’ faces.

Rob: Something Western Technology nursing instructor Linda Badillo knows something about.

Linda Badillo: Long-term care is my passion. It’s where I started and where I want to stay. We’re all gonna be there one day. Everybody ages, and sometimes those are the people that are forgotten, and they’re the people who made us what we are, where we need to be and where we need to go.

Rob: And with long-term patients comes long-term responsibilities. And that means respecting them as if they were family.

Badillo: Most people consider patients, patients. I like for my students to think of them as their elders, people who have given for them to be where they’re at.

Rob: And there have been more and more elderly to take care of, especially here in western Oklahoma, as the population continues to age.

Badillo: Our seven counties that we cover, we have 16 homes, and in those 16 homes we have approximately 1,400 beds that potentially could have a patient in it that needs help.

Rob: And this is where current demographic trends are working against western Oklahoma. While the elderly are needing more care, many of this area’s young people are moving out, not necessarily because they want to, but because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of job opportunities, a trend that Western Technology Superintendent Hoyt Lewis says his school is trying to reverse.

Hoyt Lewis: We need to look at growing our own, and that’s what we’ve been doing. We need to build more buildings and have larger classrooms. But it’s gonna hopefully grow our own and those students come back to western Oklahoma as nurses, doctors in the health industry. Our elderly, they spend probably 80 percent of their time treated and worked with by that CNA. So they have a direct impact on your loved ones. These people are your fathers, mothers, sisters, aunts. If they’re spending 80 percent of the day with your loved ones, I think you want somebody that has been in a certification program that knows what they’re doing, has proven that by high rigor and grades in the program.

Rob: And as for Daci Sawyer, well, she hopes to become an RN and eventually a nurse practitioner. And while she’ll have to leave the area to finish her education, she hopes to be back here for her career.

Sawyer: Yes, I’d love to come back to my hometown and see all the people and just see all the patients and catch up about their lives. There’s a lot of jobs out there open and needed for us.

Lewis: The bottom line: We do make a difference in people’s lives and our student’s lives, and then the students have the citizens of western Oklahoma as well as all of the people that receive medical services.

Rob: So in a nutshell, the training at Western Technology Center allows the young people who grew up there to stay there in western Oklahoma.