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Oldsmar, Florida Native Victoria Strand Named Ultimate Medical Academy Spring 2018 True Blue Alum

Victoria Strand, 20, a native of Oldsmar, Florida today was named a True Blue Alum of Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA). This recognition is awarded each quarter by the nonprofit accredited healthcare school to graduates who are serving their communities, excelling in their careers, and accomplishing other noteworthy achievements.

Strand, a 2017 graduate of the Nursing Assistant (NA) diploma program at UMA’s Clearwater Campus, grew up in a healthcare provider family and knew from a young age she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mother, a nurse. She began her healthcare journey when she became a Medical Assistant her senior year of high school.

Strand faced struggles in her life, and those struggles pushed her to excel. Her parents divorced at a young age, leaving her and her mother temporarily homeless. She watched her mother find the strength to get their family back on their feet, which Strand attributes to giving her the passion to be the best she can be.

Her journey continued when her mother asked her supervisor if she could provide Victoria with a list of local resources to obtain a healthcare education. After reviewing the list and researching her options, Strand decided she wanted to pursue a career as a physician assistant (PA)—and knew that first completing the NA program at UMA and becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) could help her reach her goal.

“UMA played a role in my ultimate goal of becoming a physician assistant because applying to physician assistant programs has become very competitive,” Strand said, “I figured that becoming a CNA would be the best fit for me to accomplish receiving the direct patient care hours [that PA programs require], and that’s why I pursued a [diploma] at Ultimate Medical Academy.”

While attending UMA, Strand took a mix of online and on-campus classes at the University of South Florida (USF) toward earning her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences. She also completed a 45-hour externship at a local nursing home as part of her diploma requirements at UMA. This inspired her to work with UMA’s Career Services and secure a post-graduation job as a CNA at FirstLight Home Care in Clearwater, Florida.

“[My advisor] sat down with me and helped me explore some different home healthcare companies that I would like to work for,” Strand explained. “He sent me on an interview the same day I spoke with him, and I actually got the job that same day. It was a very wonderful experience and I was very surprised by how well it all went. UMA provided me with hands-on training that helps me in my career right now.”

Strand spends her free-time volunteering with multiple healthcare organizations. She has been actively volunteering at a local hospital since 2011, and since then has volunteered at several other organizations in the Tampa Bay area. She has also excelled on her long-term career journey by being elected President of the Pre-Physician Assistant Society USF Chapter.

 “Victoria’s passion for the healthcare field, her dedication to her education, and her commitment to volunteering in her community make us all proud,” UMA Clearwater Campus Director Dr. Rebecca Sarlo said. “We admire all she has done to accomplish her goals wish her the best of luck as she begins to apply to PA programs in the Spring of 2019.”

Strand discusses her UMA student journey in this  video and her work as a CNA in this video.