When Holly Perli, RN, was in high school, she knew that she wanted to work in health care. Like a lot of teenagers, however, she didn’t know all the paths that were available to her. Knowing that she didn’t want to spend upwards of eight years in college and medical school, Holly chose to pursue another career path — becoming a science teacher. She had always been drawn to the subject, but once she was in front of a classroom, she discovered that she just wasn’t passionate about teaching high school students. With this lesson learned, Holly made her way back to health care.
Holly was first acquainted with Monument Health — then Regional Health — as a nursing student working part time as a unit assistant in dialysis. From there, she left the area to pursue other opportunities, eventually returning to the Black Hills. At that time, she was working remotely for another employer and, as she said, “I’m a team person and it occurred to me one day, why am I not playing for the home team?” Since returning to the home team, Holly has held positions focused on nursing education within and outside of the walls of Monument Health.
Currently, Holly is part of the Nursing Professional Development (NPD) team whose focus extends beyond education to include onboarding, evidence-based practice, collaborative partnerships and role development.
In addition, she acts as a liaison to nursing schools and students by facilitating continuing education, clinicals and preceptorships. This portion of her role is part of what led Holly to work with the Rapid City Academies Approach (RCAA) at Rapid City Area Schools.
“I feel like I’ve come full circle,” Holly explained. “My first degree is in teaching secondary education that I never really used prior to my role with Monument Health and the Rapid City Area Schools Pathways program. I’m able to use this knowledge I’ve gained to help nurses and students find their path.”
RCAA allows students to explore an industry of their choice, including health care, while still maintaining graduation requirements. Holly hopes that participants are able to further explore and learn about job fields that interest them — as well as determine what roles may not be a good fit. With her own experience of pursuing multiple degrees, she feels that this program provides students with a “leg up” in the professional world.
“We hope to show students how meaningful nursing is, and that Monument Health is a great place to work.”
Conventional teaching may not have been the right path for Holly, but her education in the field paired with her nursing knowledge allows her to educate future nurses in her own way.
“Keep your mind open to all aspects of health care. Get in the door and see things firsthand. Whether or not that ends up being what you do, it’s an experience and a connection that can help you with whatever comes next.”
When asked if she has advice for individuals considering working in health care, or nursing specifically, she laughed and said, “Yes, do it!” More seriously, but with a smile still on her face, she added, “There are hard situations and challenging moments, but each day is so rewarding. You can never say ‘the work I’m doing isn’t meaningful,’ because it truly is.”
In 2020, Rapid City Area Schools (RCAS) launched an academies approach that provides all students with access to career-connected learning experiences. All ninth-grade students begin their journey in a Freshman Academy course exposing them to various career opportunities to explore during their high school experience.
Rapid City Academies Approach (RCAA) strives to bring career pathways to RCAS, as well as build strong connections to employers, institutions of higher education and community-based organizations.
The Academy model works to equip high school students with the knowledge and skills they need to explore career options while still in school. This approach aims to help students develop a plan that leads graduates to a successful transition beyond high school, including postsecondary education and training, careers and life responsibilities.
Freshman Academy allows students to explore the various Academies and engage with content in digital citizenship, computer applications and workplace skills.
The Rapid City Academies Approach is supported by corporate sponsors and Advisory Councils comprised of community leaders that work to ensure teaching materials are accurate and relevant to the real world.
Due to the unprecedented nationwide teacher shortage, modifications to the initial RCAS Academy have been made. The six academies have been consolidated into three academies:
- The Academy of Arts, Humanities, and Social Services
- The Academy of STEM
- The Academy of Advanced Technologies.
Within each of these academies, students have a variety of pathways to choose, each providing career exploration and work-based learning experiences.