Sixteen Española Valley High School Students Complete NNMC’s ‘Healthcare Careers’ And ‘Medical Terminology’ Dual-Credit Courses


Sixteen students from Española Valley High School have completed this school year already on their way to high demand healthcare careers in their community. The Española Healthcare Career Pathways Project both prepares students to be able to transition into well-paying healthcare jobs while addressing the chronic healthcare workforce shortage in an area that has long been medically underserved.

“The Española Healthcare Careers Pathway Project will change lives and be a tipping point for this community,” said Brenda Romero, Presbyterian Española Hospital Administrator. “Española and the surrounding community’s socio-economic conditions and determinants of health will improve due to this project.”

This first project cohort completed Northern New Mexico College’s (NNMC) Introduction to Healthcare Careers course and the Medical Terminology course. This fall, they’ll continue with classes to earn their Phlebotomy Technician Certificate. These dual-credit classes give high school students early access to college credits and career exploration. The project also provides them with wrap-around services and leadership opportunities. Española Valley High School (EVHS) enrolls over 800 students, 97% of whom are students of color and 100% are economically disadvantaged.

“Dual credit is a vital tool to ensure students have equitable access to high-quality career and technical education programs,” said Holly Martinez, Española Public Schools Superintendent.

New Mexico has been grappling with shortages in the healthcare workforce since before COVID-19 and the pandemic only exacerbated the problem with many in the field suffering from burnout and other issues. The dual-credit courses in this project lead to an NNMC Phlebotomy Technician Certificate and a two-year Allied Health degree. Ellen Trabka, NNMC Nursing and Health Sciences Department Chair, says this partnership builds NNMC’s capacity to train more healthcare professionals to meet the community’s workforce needs.

“I signed up because I want to be a travel nurse,” said Adrian Wilder, a student at EVHS. Travel nurses make an average of $51/hour, according to ZipRecruiter. Edwardo Martinez said he signed up for the class to be more prepared to enter the healthcare field.

The project is a collaboration between Española Public Schools, NNMC, Presbyterian Española Hospital, and LANL Foundation. The LANL Foundation has provided ongoing funding, led the development of the project’s needs assessment and implementation plan, and coordinated monthly partner meetings. This has led to significant financial support from EPS, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Con Alma Health Foundation, the McCune Foundation, and the NM Public Education Department. The project is developing new NNMC allied health certificate programs, employing an NNMC dual credit instructor, outfitting a skills lab, providing career coaching, and coordinating paid student internships.

Alvin Warren, LANL Foundation’s Vice President of Career Pathways and Advocacy, commended the partners on over two years of diligent work. “Our Foundation is proud to have helped launch and coordinate this effort,” said Warren. “It’s exciting to see our Northern New Mexico students take advantage of this opportunity to prepare for healthcare careers, which will ensure their personal success and the well-being of their communities.” He hopes this program and partnership will be a model for other schools to adopt.

Since 1997, the LANL Foundation has been investing in education, learning, and human potential in Northern New Mexico. Through diverse programming and collaboration with key partners, the LANL Foundation works to ensure that all New Mexicans have the skills and confidence they need to be self-sufficient lifelong learners who are engaged in their communities. LANL Foundation is dedicated to the enhancement of students’ access to academic and technical opportunities, leading to quality jobs by supporting college and career readiness in schools, districts, communities, Pueblos, Tribes, and Nations. For more information visit: