As a child, Ashley Chacon Percival became her family’s interpreter; helping her Spanish speaking parents navigate the health care system. At 8 years old, she was accompanying them to medical appointments, interpreting and translating for them, and when her father suffered a stroke she attended his specialty appointments with him.
Childhood Leads to Medical Interpreting
CU College of Nursing Student Ashley Percival and her family
“I think my childhood led me to where I am today,” said Percival. While assisting her family, she recognized a gap in services and discovered a calling – medical interpreting for Spanish speaking patients. “I wanted to be the person to fill that gap,” she said.
For six years, Percival was a medical interpreter in different Denver metro area hospitals. “Even though I loved it, it wasn’t a steady job,” recalled Percival. Three years ago, she began looking for a more reliable position in health care administration. She found it as a referral coordinator with Sheridan Health Services, a nurse-managed health center run by the University of Colorado College of Nursing. “In a sense, it was like going back to my roots. Sheridan reminded me of the community clinics that I attended with my parents when I was a child. I had a true connection and knew I belonged,” said Percival. As a referral coordinator, she helps patients navigate the clinic, get to their appointments, translates, and make sure paperwork and tests are completed.
Bridging the Language Gap While Providing a Great Clinic Experience
Percival has thrived at Sheridan, helping the patients feel at ease navigating a variety of services including primary care, mental and behavioral health, a dental practice, and pharmacy. “I feel so grateful to work here. It’s such a supportive environment. What separates Sheridan from other clinics is that we truly listen to our patients and their needs.” The patients recognize this special bond. Recalling a patient who needed HIV care, Percival said he first went to a local hospital’s emergency department, which could not provide continuous care for his chronic condition. “He came to us. I coordinated assistance for him. He was so grateful. Those are the moments that make the job rewarding. I know I made a difference in his life,” said Percival.
Her work has made her an invaluable asset providing intangible services for the clinic’s clientele. Making them feel welcome, at home, and cared for. “We can provide the health care services, but Ashley sets the stage for a great clinic experience,” said Nurse Case Manager Megan Peek, RN, BSN. After two-and-a-half years working at Sheridan, seeing the commitment, passion and compassion of the staff and providers, Percival began questioning her role. “Seeing all they do makes me motivated to do more for the community and be more of an advocate,” she said.
New Pathways to Nursing
A year ago, she began thinking about becoming a nurse. Her fellow workers couldn’t be more supportive of her decision to enroll in CU Nursing’s Integrated Nurse Pathway (INP) program, which facilitates a unique pathway for students to earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in nursing.
Offered through three local community colleges (Community College of Aurora, The Community College of Denver, and Red Rocks Community College Arvada), the INP program provides simultaneous application and admission to the local community college and CU College of Nursing. Upon admission, students take the first two semesters of classes at the community college and receive an associate degree. Then, they complete nursing studies at CU Nursing at the Anschutz Medical Campus where they earn their BSN after two years.
Percival is taking her courses at the Community College of Denver and will be transitioning to CU College of Nursing in January 2021. Working full-time at Sheridan and going to school full-time is a challenge, “but it’s one I love,” said Percival. With a future goal of being a rural health nurse, Percival has lived the experience that many of her current and future patients will face. “And that’s why she’s going to make an outstanding nurse,” said Peek.