WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The FutureReady Healthcare Center at WSU Tech South opened in August, and USD 259 students are getting hands-on learning experience. They can choose one of three pathways: EMT, Pre-nursing and Patient Care Tech with certifications in CNA, Phlebotomy and EKG.

“The importance of the FutureReady Center is increasing the volume and accessibility of the programs to students throughout Wichita Public Schools,” FRC Principal Eric Shipman said. “We know that industry needs employees, and they need highly trained employees. And the FutureReady Center is helping our partnerships with industry to provide the training that students need to enter those workforces.”

The program is free, and supplies are included, such as scrubs, books, and transportation. Students go to the center two class periods out of the day.

“This opportunity for Wichita Public Schools students is critically important,” Shipman said. “The availability, the training and the ability to enter the workforce is critical for their future success. There are opportunities for students that want to continue in their education to have scholarship opportunities and partners with industry and programs to help pay for future education if they want it.”

Jena Roth is the WSU Tech dean of high school partnerships and community outreach. She says there was a need for students to engage in a collegiate-level environment and elevate the work they’re doing.

Partnerships also allow for students to get out into the workplace and do applied learning.

“We have a lot of community partners. We’re heavily engaged with our local hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, all of those,” Roth said. “And so now our students are getting to go out there sooner to engage with employers with actual patients.”

Roth says students can step outside their comfort zones with this new facility.

“Our students have been in their K-8, K-12 environments and are very familiar with those,” Roth said. “As a result of that, sometimes familiarity and comfort kept them in just a very small box of opportunity. When they came here on campus, we were able to start watching them. It’s kind of a soft launch into the next step of their professional career.”

Early on, students can launch into their professional careers and find out whether it’s something they want to pursue. Roth says this program is for the students who want to go into healthcare but also the ones who are considering it.

Students say the experience is huge for them.

“It’s amazing, honestly, like, I feel like for me, I get more of an opportunity, and it allows me to what I really want to see for my future and just kind of get where I want to head into,” high school senior Giselle Ultreras said. “We get a lot of like hands-on and just new experiences, and it’s a great opportunity that we get while we’re still in high school.”

Alexa Ornelas is also a senior and wants to be a physician. Her time at the FRC has shown her she wants to work with patients.

“This place has really helped feel like my patient experience especially with clinicals,” Ornelas said. “And then also just the skills that we have here, we get to like act as if we interact with patients. So I feel like that’s helped me kind of realize that I do want to work with patients. We’ve done like how to care for a patient who’s confused, how to feed patients, how to groom them, how to, you know, just provide personal care. And I feel like those are some of the things we’ve done. We’ve done so many things that have to do with caring for patients. And I think I wouldn’t have been able to get that somewhere else.”

The FRC is for USD 259 juniors and seniors, but WSU Tech still offers classes to students in any district.

It was made possible by a partnership among community organizations and ARPA grant from the City of Wichita.

“The FutureReady Center, with some funds from the City of Wichita through an ARPA grant, partnering with WSU Tech and working with industry really to expand that, offer more availability and really not limit the opportunities that students have throughout the City of Wichita,” Shipman said.