Each year, Wake Tech educates and trains thousands of nurses, first responders, law enforcement officers, childcare workers, and others, preparing them for careers as vital service providers.

Now, in the light of the coronavirus pandemic, these professionals are being recognized as the “essential workers” they are – critical to the safe operation of our communities. They are required to report to work every day, regardless of personal risk, and they gladly answer the call.

Read some recent graduates’ stories and find out how they’re using what they learned at Wake Tech to keep others healthy and safe – and to keep our community going strong.

Name: Rebecca Ball, MLT (ASCP)
2019 Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) Graduate

Occupation: Medical Laboratory Technologist I
Virology/Serology Department, North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health

As a medical laboratory technologist during the pandemic, Rebecca helps process COVID-19 samples that arrive at the lab. Using a pipette, she aliquots or separates a portion of the sample and places it into a separate tube which is then tested by virology staff.

What does it feel like to be an essential employee during the pandemic?

“It is a little surreal, like you are in the middle of this never-ending rush. There is an eerie feeling in the air, everyone is on edge but there is still a sense of camaraderie and feeling that we’re all in this together."

I work with an amazing team of incredibly smart laboratorians who I've learned something new from daily and this pandemic has only validated my decision to go into this field. The lab is so underrepresented and misunderstood but one of the most vital roles in patient care and I am proud to be considered essential."

How did your training at Wake Tech prepare you for what you have been experiencing on the job?

I felt prepared to start this job with confidence because of the spectrum of the course material covered. My instructors also played a huge role in my success. They really pushed me to do my best and believed in me every step of the way and I would recommend Wake Tech's Medical Laboratory program to everyone! I would not have been as prepared for a global pandemic a year after graduation if it weren't for my amazing instructors!


Name: Alex Watkins
2019 Emergency Medical Science AAS Graduate

Occupation: Paramedic, National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians
Wake County EMS

As a paramedic during the pandemic, Alex answers emergency medical calls for service, including treating and transporting suspected COVID-19 patients to hospital emergency rooms.

What does it feels like to be an essential employee during the COVID-19 pandemic?

"Wake County EMS has done an amazing job of preparing us specifically for COVID-19 with everything from training beforehand to accurate dispatch information and PPE availability. As a result, even on the COVID calls, I have run, I always knew what I was walking into and was able to prepare all appropriate precautions."

How did your training at Wake Tech prepare you for what you have been experiencing on the job?

"The education at Wake Tech was incredibly personalized and 1 on 1 which allowed me to get an immense amount of education specific to my level of understanding. Regarding specific preparation for COVID, we utilized PPE regularly in simulation and clinical shifts which helped me understand the clinical presentation of patients who required contact and airborne precautions."


Name: Elizabeth Putnam
2019 - 911 Telecommunicator Certificate Completer

Occupation: 911 Dispatcher
Apex Police Department

As a dispatcher during the pandemic, Elizabeth answers emergency calls for service. During COVID-19, many of the calls relate to questions residents have about the state’s stay-at-home order.

What does it feel like to be an essential employee during the COVID-19 pandemic?

"Being an essential employee and still having to continue to show up for work during the pandemic has been a little more stressful due to the times but it's something that you have to prepared for working in emergency services. We're always here no matter what is going on in the world. Despite all this, though there are still emergency calls for service that I process as a dispatcher that isn't COVID-19 related such as domestic violence calls and welfare checks of people concerned for their loved ones."

How did your training at Wake Tech prepare you for what you have been experiencing on the job?

"I never imagined that I would be working during a national pandemic in my first year of being a dispatcher, but the class was a fantastic tool in getting my feet wet before jumping into this job. It made the transition into me being a dispatcher a lot smoother. It helped ground my expectations for what the job was so I knew what I was walking into and already knew some of the questions to ask for calls which made training a lot smoother as well."


Name: Jing Xie
2017 Nurse Aide graduate

Occupation: CNA
HomeChoice Home Care Solutions
The Retreat at Cary

As a nurse aide during the pandemic, Jing checks on her home and hospice care patients and assists them with personal care, feeding, and social activities.

What does it feel like to be an essential employee during the COVID-19 pandemic?

“Most clients or residents are elderly people. Most of them cannot do activities of daily living by themselves and even have cognitive issues. They are vulnerable and have various medical conditions. It is important for us as caregivers to be there for them every day to help them. Some of them cannot even stand up or turn over in bed by themselves. During this time, I try to keep residents from infection and keep them safe and healthy as much as possible. I also spend more time doing activities like reading books, talking, and playing games with them to keep them socialized.”

How did your training at Wake Tech prepare you for what you have been experiencing on the job?

“The nurse aide I program definitely provided a strong foundation for the job. Concepts such as safety, fall precaution, and infection are in the program practice. Even though I still need to further develop my skills with more experience, the program gave me a solid understanding of how to be a nurse aide. This is a rewarding job for me and I’m proud to be a CNA.”