Valencia Professors Write a How-To Book for Young People Interested in Entering the Health Care Field

Have you always wanted to be a nurse? Or maybe you envision yourself as a radiologist or an EMT. If so, you could start preparing for your dream career as early as middle school with the help of a new book, “Heads Up: Successful Strategies for Planning a Career in Health Care,” by Valencia Community College professors, Dr. Linda Speranza and Dr. Diane Reed.

The 77-page pocket sized book serves as a resource for middle school and high school students (and their parents) who are interested in pursuing careers in the health care field. It provides 20 chapters, each filled with valuable tips that range from investigating the many career options within health care to which classes to take while in high school.

“One big thing that we realized was that teens were taking any kind of -ology class,” said Reed. “Things like ecology and theology are rigorous, but they’re not going to help you in the health sciences.”

Reed is an allied health professor and has been an adjunct clinical instructor at Valencia for 10 years and Speranza has been a nursing professor for 34 years. Much of the advice that they incorporate into their book came from experience gained through a grant-funded program called Pathways Into Nursing (PIN).

The PIN program, which existed from 2002 to 2005, was geared toward helping Hispanic and other minority students get on the path to becoming professional nurses. Valencia worked with students from Gateway High School, Osceola High School and Cypress Creek High School, providing qualified participants with guaranteed admission into Valencia’s registered nursing program.

“After the grant ended, we thought the book was a logical next step,” said Speranza. “We realized that a lot of parents and school guidance counselors want to help their child or student [start preparing for medical careers] but don’t know how.”

Both authors stress that the most important thing is to start the process early. They recommend that students begin the career investigation process as early as middle school. With increasing educational costs and academic requirements for admission to colleges and universities, having a clear career direction can save time and money.

Dr. Diane Reed is an experienced delivery room nurse, a clinical nursing instructor, a professor of allied health, and a career and retention strategist. She has more than 10 years of professional teaching experience in the classroom and online and more than 10 years of career planning and retention experience with middle school, high school and college students. She is also a career planning consultant for the Orlando Magic. She is currently working toward a master’s degree in nursing and health care informatics.

Dr. Linda Speranza is a nationally certified family nurse practitioner. In addition to teaching full-time at Valencia, she practices part-time in emergency departments at Bartow Regional Medical Center and Central Florida Regional Hospital, as well as in a private family practice urgent care clinic. She was recently appointed to a four-year term with the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice.

Published by Tate Publishing, “Heads Up: Successful Strategies for Planning a Career in Health Care” is available in paperback for $8.99. It can be purchased online at or


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