SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The pandemic has impacted people’s lives everywhere, and those on the frontline know that all too well.

For Ashley Coaston, becoming a physician is a way to combine her passion for medicine and caring for people into one role.

She’s a second year resident at Sanford Health.

“My motivation was to care for patients specifically pediatric patients. I always have a heart, especially for, under served communities and, children who do not get the health care that they need,” Coaston said.

Her motivation has remained the same, but working during a global pandemic has changed a lot.

“When you go to work, like the kids are sick all the time. Like even like with colds and the flu and things. So you expect to get that kind of exposure, but being exposed to a virus that we don’t really know anything about, is a different type of, uncertainty and brings a different type of anxiety,” Coaston said.

“As the COVID-19 was first appearing, some people thought, well, our lives are at risk. But then we thought about that. And the answer is just going into the medical field you put yourself at risk,” Zenel said.

Dr. Joseph Zenel is the program director of the pediatrics residency program at Sanford Children’s Hospital.

He says going into this career is a sacrifice in itself, but adds that there is no lack of safety for residents.

“We keep them up to date with the current CDC recommendations. What Sanford actually does a very good job of announcing every few days, what the patient counts are. If there’s been a change in policy, where to approach, what do you do as a health care provider should you get exposed?” Joseph Zenel said.

It’s that support along with access to PPE and COVID-19 training that is helping Coaston keep her anxiety at bay.

She hopes other prospective residents won’t be deterred from the program due to fear of the pandemic.

“I would encourage them that, the only difference with this is that it’s a very clear, difficulty that you’re coming into that we don’t know a whole lot about, but it gives you an opportunity to really, put all of that care into action,” Coaston said.

To learn more about the residency programs offered at Sanford Health, click here.