Alissa Fox was searching for a career that would combine her love of science with her compassion for people.

After changing her field of study several times and experiencing uncertainty about her direction, she settled on a career in healthcare.

“I was interested in nursing, but wanted to make sure it was something I really wanted to do before going to nursing school,” Fox said.

So while she was taking her nursing school perquisites, she enrolled in the HCC Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) program. It was a decision Fox says made her a better nurse, and made her more marketable to employers.

“I got my CNA license and worked a few months before heading to nursing school,” she said. “The CNA program helped me sell myself to employers because I already had experience in the medical field.”

Fox is now a successful nurse at Memorial Herman Hospital. After completing the CNA program, she enrolled in the HCC nursing program and graduated with an associate degree in December 2014. She transferred to University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Fox credits her time at HCC as an important step in her career.

“A lot of things I learned in the CNA program helped me in nursing school. The experience with patients was great, and gave me inner confidence when I did my clinical courses in nursing school.”

It’s a pathway Fox believes more people should take before launching into a nursing career.

“There are a lot of basics that are really important. Most nursing programs are so accelerated that a lot of things are skipped over,” she explained.

The solid foundation she received at HCC enabled Fox to excel and thrive. She also greatly benefitted from practical, hands-on training and a very experienced teaching staff, she acknowledged.

“I truly enjoyed Ms. Betty Ashford as a professor. She was really good at encouraging students and helping us gain confidence in our skills. She made us feel as if we are doing well. It made a huge difference for me when I moved onto the next level of my education.”

Fox loves her new career and will be working in the mother and baby unit. Even so, she credits her time as a CNA for helping her to truly understand her new career.

“Working in a hospital is about more than just being a nurse. Being a CNA made me a better nurse, and a better team player because I understand the different perspectives of my colleagues.”

Houston Community College offers a wide range of healthcare continuing education classes. For more information, visit hccs.edu/ce.