A STEP in the right direction

For some high school students, a career path may not be obvious as senior year approaches, but Andrea Wade knew health care was in her future, and a new pilot program introduced in Pueblo School District 70 provided the right direction forward. 

Andrea joined Parkview as a STEP (School to Employment Program) student in 2003 while she was at Pueblo West High School.

“I remember them coming to the school - we had to submit an essay and be interviewed,” said Andrea. “We also had to take a health-care course. It was an honor to be selected to be a part of the group.”

Those early weeks of the STEP program made a profound impact on Andrea.

“It opened my eyes to the different possibilities in healthcare,” commented Andrea. “It really affirmed that nursing was where I needed to be. But it also showed me that some of the things I thought I would love were definitely not for me. In the grand scheme of things that was very helpful and led me to the right decision going into the nursing field.”

The successful collaboration of students and Parkview Health System staff was a passion for D70’s former Assistant Superintendent Ginger Andenucio.


“I believe STEP has impacted every student who has participated in the program.  For many students, the experience has assisted in clarifying or confirming a pathway to pursue after graduation from high school,” said Andenucio. “Every student who has participated in the program grows as an individual by learning valuable life, career, and interpersonal skills that will be useful no matter what path the student follows after graduation.  The STEP program takes learning beyond the textbook and beyond the classroom to the real world.”  

Following high school graduation, Andrea had some tough choices to make. “I did not get into nursing school right away – I was on a waitlist,” said Andrea. Her advisor encouraged her to go to Pueblo Community College where she received her Psych-Tech certificate. She worked at the Colorado Mental Health Institute for 3 years before deciding it was time to go back to school. She returned to Parkview in 2008 while she continued her education as a nurse extern and then joined full-time in 2009 as a registered nurse in Parkview’s float pool.

Wade completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.  She is a Certified Medical Surgical RN. In 2015, she was a Southeastern Colorado Nightingale Nominee.    

“Andrea Wade is a perfect example of how impactful the STEP program is,” stated Renee Elwell, Chief Nursing Officer.  “Since attending the STEP program, she went on to become a nurse, teacher and mentor to new nurses and Director of two very busy med-surg floors. She has constantly strived to learn and advance in her career, and one of the most important steps she took was getting involved in the STEP program.”

In April of 2021, Parkview announced Andrea Wade as the new Director for floors 5 Tower and 5 East. As the Director, she is responsible for the operational leadership and management of her floors while supporting members of her team to ensure patient needs are met. She is also responsible for maintaining departmental relationships. 

In looking back at the changes in the STEP program, Andrea commented, “I’m glad that they have expanded the program past the bedside. There is much more to healthcare than just nursing and it’s exciting to see that students are able to explore facilities and other areas of the hospital through the program.”

Andrea’s future goals include the completion of a Master’s degree and the continued growth of the Parkview team. “I want to add to my leadership skills, provide great care and I want everyone to enjoy nursing as much as I do,” added Andrea.

Andrea offers advice for those considering a career in the health care field: “I definitely think it’s important to keep an open mind no matter where you are it in health care. One thing you can count on is constant change. Take in all that you can -all the different experiences and people and learn from them.”

For more information on the STEP program, contact Stacy Cristelli at 719-584-4878 or via email at stacy_cristelli@parkviewmc.com

(Look for an upcoming Defining Moments article featuring the 2022 STEP class)