When Cedars-Sinai nurse Mario Flores was a student at Fairfax High, his chemistry teacher asked if anyone in the class was interested in a career in healthcare. He raised his hand, and in that moment, his life changed.
“You think everyone in a hospital is a doctor, but then I got here and I saw there were so many other options.”
Mario’s teacher told him about the Youth Employment and Development (YED) program at Cedars-Sinai. Through the program, local students get hands-on experience and mentoring in the healthcare field.
“I applied for the YED program and got in,” says Mario. “My junior year I was assigned to the rehab floor. I answered phones and delivered things. I just helped wherever I was needed.”
Working closely with Cedars-Sinai staff inspired Mario to start thinking about what he would do after high school.
“You think everyone in a hospital is a doctor, but then I got here and I saw there were so many other options,” says Mario. “I was really inspired by all the people doing good here.”
Mario, who came to the US with his family as a refugee from El Salvador, stayed in the YED program for two years. After finishing high school, he was able to start working as a temp in the medical center. He spent time working in the medical records department, then as a patient transporter, and finally in case management.
“It hadn’t really occurred to me that I could be a nurse, but then I thought, ‘I could do that.'”
“I met a nurse named Art in case management and he told me I should go to nursing school,” says Mario. “It hadn’t really occurred to me that I could be a nurse, but then I thought, ‘I could do that.'”
He started nursing school in 2004 and finished in 2009—he was the first in his family to go to college. Mario left his temp position to focus on school full-time, but he always knew he wanted to come back to Cedars-Sinai someday.
“I graduated on a Friday and got a call from Cedars-Sinai on Monday,” Mario says. “9 years later, here I am.”
Now Mario is a nurse in the ICU. He credits the YED program with guiding his career and showing him another path in life.
“I had a vision of how I wanted my life to be, but where I grew up there were gangs and really nothing positive,” says Mario. “I got this great opportunity to come here, and I got to see a different side of the world—it changed my life.”
The YED program is just one of the ways Cedars-Sinai is working toward a healthier Los Angeles. Learn more about our community benefit programs.