Willow Yager was a fixture on the field hockey, basketball and lacrosse teams at South Burlington High School. Playing sports, she said, helped form structure and create balance in her life.
Now a sophomore at the University of Vermont, a determined Yager worked to become a licensed nursing assistant, through the Center for Technology in Essex, and received her certification this past fall.
Already in a nursing program at UVM, Yager wanted to get a jump on a career in medicine she has wanted ever since she was a kid.
“It’s a great opportunity and you can really get exposed to the medical field, working under a nurse,” Yager said. “You learn the basic skills of a nurse.”
Yager started a job in January at the University of Vermont Medical Center. She works on a general surgery and trauma floor. While it’s not a designated unit for COVID-19 patients, Yager remains part of a dedicated group of health care workers who are on or near the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic on a daily basis.
“Every morning you walk in and all employees stand six feet apart and you get your temperature taken. They also ask if you have a cough or the sniffles,” said Yager, whose shifts vary from four to 12 hours. “We have to wear surgical masks all day.”
Dealing with an overflow of patients to help the hospital wings caring for COVID-19 patients, Yager said she’s getting valuable on-the-job training for her career.
“Unexpected things happen, that’s the beauty of being a nurse, adapting and adjusting to things,” Yager said. “I like doing this because we need to protect our community.”
Yager says this is an experience she will never forget.
“It’s pretty crazy honestly. I would have never thought my first job would be during a crazy, hectic time in the world,” Yager said.
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