Caregiver transitions to medical career path

Amber Pratt on the computer Published June 12, 2024

As important as education is to Amber Pratt, going to college right after high school wasn’t a feasible option for her. Not only was she her dad’s official full-time caregiver, but six days after graduation, she gave birth to her first son.

Pratt, a Zion resident, was planning on studying phlebotomy with financial help from the Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) grant. She filled out the application before graduating high school in 2019 but was unable to attend. In 2023, she started pursuing an education in medical reception without cost thanks to the WEI grant.

“I wasn’t even able to work because taking care of my son and dad was a full-time job,” Pratt said. “I had good grades in high school and planned to go to college, but I had to change my plan around.”

Pratt grew up with older parents, and her father had a stroke before she was born, so she had always been accustomed to being in medical settings. Though she never really thought about going into the field, people around her told her it would be a good fit.

“I kind of felt like I was being my dad’s nurse by taking care of him,” Pratt said. “Medical reception is my way of professionally entering the medical world.”

Pratt loved her experience in the program, finding it a great way to get her foot in the door. Though she could have secured a job with her medical reception certificate, she wanted to further her education. She’s now pursuing her associate degree and plans to enroll in the nursing program at CLC.

Pratt’s father passed away in 2022, but she continues to take care of people at home. With two kids under five, she also helps her mother every night with dialysis.

Even with all the responsibilities at home, Pratt can go to school thanks to her strong support system.

“With everything I had going on, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything for myself,” Pratt said. “School is for me, and it helps me keep my mind off tough things. I’m lucky that my kids’ father and our parents can take care of the kids while I’m in class, and I can go to school full-time without having to work.”

Pratt is also thankful for the help she gets at CLC from her advisor and the WEI program, including paid tuition. She also likes knowing childcare is available if she needs it.

“Amber is inspiring, and I admire her perseverance and dedication throughout her educational journey,” said Career Program Coordinator Crystal Overton. “She has overcome barriers, and her hard work has paid off. Amber's resilience is a testament to her strength and character, and I was happy to support her.”

After CLC, Pratt plans on transferring to Herzing University and pursuing both a bachelor and doctorate degree. Her goal is to be a nurse anesthesiologist.

“Whether you want to go to school for a degree or certificate, it's good to have something like WEI that can open the door to a career,” Pratt said. “CLC has amazing resources, and there are so many things beyond the grant that WEI offers.”