But when processing her paperwork, there was a hitch: Although a high school diploma or GED is not required for CNAs, it was for the position Parris was filling and Acuna had dropped out of school when she was expecting her first child.
Parris told Acuna that she would hold the offer open if she would immediately begin work on her GED. "Twenty-nine days later, Amy called to say that she had it and was ready to start work," says Parris.
However, the story doesn't end there. Acuna ultimately decided that she wanted to become a nurse, so Parris coached her through the process of applying for admission to the nursing programs at two community colleges.
"I really didn't know much about where to begin," says Acuna, who was accepted by both. "I needed that support and she gave it to me."
In August, when an opening for a medical assistant came open, Parris encouraged Acuna to apply, which she did and was then offered the position.
"I like my new role a lot," says Acuna, who now assists OB/GYN Jonathan Scrafford, MD, during the two full and two half-days he sees patients in the clinic. "I like working on Dr. Scrafford's team because he genuinely cares about his team and his patients."
The 24-hour work schedule suit allows Acuna to grow her clinical knowledge and skills while working on her nursing prerequisites at Cowley County Community College.
"At first, I really didn't believe in myself," says the 32-year-old mother of three as she reflects back on the past year. "But having that support from Victoria, Ascension, and my husband and kids, has helped make it all possible."
Parris says working with Acuna has been a reminder of how blessed she was to have the support she needed when pursuing her nursing degree and that not everyone starts from the same place.
"Some people can walk up to a fence and see over it and other people need a stepstool," she says, an analogy she heard during a leadership presentation about equity vs. fairness. "We can't always make life fair, but we can help to make it more equitable for those we encounter along the way."