Travis Tarrant believes that nothing happens by chance.
He was just a year out of high school, in his first year of college, when an impromptu meeting with a nurse turned out to be a turning point in his life, one that would lead to many challenges — and gifts.
He had stopped by the college nursing office to get a couple of aspirins for a pounding headache. A check of his blood pressure showed it was sky high and the nurse asked Tarrant to sit in the clinic until his blood pressure dropped a bit.
“Promise me that you’ll go to your doctor when you get home,’’ she instructed.
Tarrant kept his promise, but two days after his doctor’s appointment, he received shocking news. His doctor told him that he had focal segmental glomerulosclerosis – a kidney disease in which scarring occurs inside some of the tiny filters of the kidneys. In time, the scarring prevents the kidneys from adequately filtering blood. The doctor said his kidneys would shut down in six months.
Tarrant began a routine of dialysis that lasted for three-and-a-half years and led him to University of Colorado Hospital for treatment and ultimately, in 2014, a kidney transplant at UCH. That experience changed Tarrant’s life in ways that he could not have anticipated.
“Everybody was so caring – they made sure that I was taken care of. They asked if I had any questions or concerns. Through the whole process — from the care that I received to being on dialysis to getting the transplant — I really loved the doctors. I was really impressed,’’ Tarrant said.
He admired the people that took care of him so much that he made a decision to try to join them. In June 2015, Tarrant left his job as a customer service representative for a major airline and joined UCHealth as a patient access representative, helping patients access care and schedule appointments.
“I received great care here, so I thought it might be a great place to work,’’ he said.
When he saw that UCHealth was offering scholarships to advance education among employees, Tarrant decided to apply. The REACH (Recognizing Educational Achievement through Careers in Health) scholarship program, an annual program of UCHealth, is designed to award medical assistant or surgical technologist certificates and degree program scholarships to eligible UCHealth employees or approved UCHealth contract employees.
UCHealth awarded five MA and five surgical tech scholarships, which cover current education costs, such as tuition, school fees, certification test costs and books up to $15,000. The scholarship also includes up to eight hours of paid time off from work per week for educational purposes. It’s one of the perks and programs for employees that contributes to UCHealth’s recent designation as a “Great Place to Work,’’ according to a national survey of randomly selected current employees.
Scholarship recipients include: Ike Wagner from Poudre Valley Hospital Sterile Processing; Angela Hunsinger from PVH Birthing Center; Axel Chavez from UCHealth’s Patient Line; Janelle Avers, who works in the PACU at University of Colorado Hospital; Jennifer J. Sullivan from the CTRC Inpatient at UCH; Bernike Asnetty, a medical assistant at University Medicine-Anschutz; Sheena Evans, a security officer with Allied Barton; Tashina Sadler, Wound Care Clinic at Memorial Hospital; Jo-Anna Stier, who works in Outpatient Surgery at Printers Park in Colorado Springs; and Tarrant.
Tarrant will now enroll in a nine-month Pima Medical Institute program to become a medical assistant. Without the scholarship program, he said, he could not have pursued this education opportunity.
“I was pretty excited – I still am,’’ Tarrant said. “Not knowing how many people were going to apply, I just figured if it was meant, it was meant.’’
With the MA certification, he said, he’ll be able to provide “that one-stop shopping for IR (interventional radiology) patients. I’ll be able to schedule the patient for the clinic and the procedure and also room those same patients as they come into the clinic.’’
Tarrant said he has always been a caring person, but when he’s at work he said he listens intently to patients.
“I just listen and hear their need and try to take care of what they need. If I’ve scheduled them for an appointment and they are satisfied, that means you’ve met their need, which means they’ll call again or come back again,’’ Tarrant said.
Having had a kidney transplant, Tarrant said, he has a “different perspective – almost like a second chance.’’
He said that his goal is to “try to change the world, even if it is just one person.’’ This fall, he’ll start school and create his own destiny to become a medical assistant.
“After that, I’m not sure what I’ll do – maybe nursing,’’ he said.