Covid’s Impact on Aspiring Health Professionals

Health Academy students at Oakmont remark on changing conditions during the pandemic.

Valentina Moreno, Editor-in-Chief


For many of us, the hospital isn’t typically a pleasant place: cold, sterile waiting rooms, death, and illness lurking in every room, and lemon antiseptic and bleach that just can’t suppress the smell of blood and vomit wafting from around the corner.

For Oakmont’s Health Academy, it’s a riveting and exciting environment. They see another side to the medical community, one that holds new frontiers for helping others and possibilities to fulfill their passions. 

The pandemic, however, has changed a lot for the Health Academy. In particular, the juniors were unable to complete their hospital shadowing, one of the most important parts of the program.

“Losing hospital time in Advanced Med was really disappointing because you hear of so many upperclassmen’s stories of seeing incredible medical procedures and doing hands-on activities,” Olivia Guzman, a Health Academy senior, said.

Health Academy coordinators were able to secure each student a 3 day internship at local hospitals over the summer to compensate for this lost opportunity.

“I think losing [hospital practicum] caused me to be grateful for the three days we had in the hospital over summer and even more excited to be in Hospital Practicum next semester,” Guzman said.

In response to the pandemic, the Health Academy was also able to modify several activities for its students, providing them opportunities to advance their education while conforming to covid health regulations of the county.

“We still had volunteer opportunities over the pandemic like vaccination clinics that were modified with masks and social distancing,” Guzman said. “One of the requirements for visiting the hospital in June was full COVID-19 vaccination.”

Although the Health Academy was able to, for the most part, seamlessly adapt to changing conditions to continue supporting its students, many students changed their minds about continuing their Health Academy careers entirely.

“I ended up leaving the academy because I switched schools and really struggled to keep up with schoolwork during online school,” Jonathan Tupou, a former Health Academy student, said. “Regardless, I would still like to pursue an occupation in the nursing field, as it’s something I’m passionate about.”

Another former Health Academy student, Kenny Smith, also felt that the Health Academy wasn’t right for him anymore, and decided to leave.

“Just after a year of being in Health Academy, I just sort of lost interest in pursuing a health career,” Smith said

Along with evolving passions, Smith cited some academic limitations of the Health Academy in his decision to leave.

“There were also AP and IB classes that I wanted to take that the Health Academy prevented me from taking,” Smith said. “Mainly I just wanted to pursue a different career.”

The pandemic has affected Health Academy kids on different levels, as some decided to leave entirely, while others changed prospective career paths within the health field.

“Originally, I wanted to be a registered nurse or respiratory therapist, but after seeing what these jobs were like, especially in the midst of a pandemic, I began to form second thoughts,” Health Academy senior Ingrid Lotilla said. “I’m still undecided with what I’d like to do, but I know for a fact I’d like to work in a clinical setting, rather than a hospital.”

“I’ve been looking into skincare and esthetics, and I’m thinking of becoming an esthetic nurse practitioner,” Lotilla continued. “The pandemic allowed me to narrow down my future career options.”

For students so involved in the healthcare industry from a young age, the pandemic, the responsibilities of frontline workers, and the effects on COVID-19 patients, have significantly impacted their perspectives on health overall.

“Seeing patients in real life and how much they struggle due to their health conditions has made me realize the importance of maintaining one’s health,” Lotilla remarked. “I found that the pandemic truly showcased the difficulty of being a health care worker.”