CCCC grant-funded program attracts healthcare students
LILLINGTON - A new grant-funded program at Central Carolina Community College's Harnett County Campus is helping to prepare workers for careers in the county's burgeoning healthcare field.
The $100,000 New Generation Careers Grant from the North Carolina Rural Center has funded the creation of a blended course, Nurse Aide-I/Nursing Assistant-101 PLUS. It provides training not only in basic care of patients, but with other skills in demand by healthcare employers.
By the time students complete the intensive, four-month training, they will have had 184 hours of hands-on training, either through the Continuing Education Department's Nurse Aide-I class or through the Nursing Assistant-101 PLUS curriculum class.
The students will also take 140 hours of additional classes in electronic medical records, professionalism, health care basics, and Career Readiness Certification. The additional classes cover the skills needed by healthcare workers in today's modern medical facilities. These were incorporated as part of the required curriculum following a survey of area healthcare employers.
The NA-I/NAS-101 program feeds into more advanced healthcare programs at the college. Students can enter the workforce as nurse aides or nursing assistants; earn additional certifications in Nurse Aide II, phlebotomy, EKG technician, or pharmacy technician; or continue their educations to become licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, physical therapy assistants, or dental hygienists. Graduates of the grant-funded program will be tracked for five years to determine success in continuing their education as well as obtaining and maintaining employment.
"The whole point of the grant program is to get these students on track for higher-paying healthcare careers and to meet employer expectations in the workplace," said Lennie Stephenson, the college's director of Continuing Education Medical Programs and New Generation Careers Grant facilitator.
The grant, obtained by the college in collaboration with its community partners, is funding the recruitment of and assistance to 75 young adults, ages 18-30, interested in working in the growing field of healthcare and related occupations in Harnett County.
The program not only trains them with job skills, but also provides support services. Tuition, fees, textbooks, and test fees are grant-funded, opening healthcare training to many who could otherwise not afford it. In addition, through the community partnerships, the students will have the opportunity for work experience with potential employers and job placement assistance.
Along Harnett County's Medical Corridor - along Highway 421 in Lillington and Dunn - construction is booming. CCCC's new Health Sciences Building is well underway and Harnett Health Systems' 50-bed Central Campus Hospital is nearing completion, both in the Brightwater Science and Technology Campus.
Facilities of First Choice Community Health Centers, East Carolina University's School of Dental Medicine, Campbell University's School of Osteopathic Medicine, and other healthcare educators and providers are also locating along the corridor.
All these are greatly increasing the need for skilled healthcare workers.
"The Health Sciences Building gives us so many more capabilities, more space," Stephenson said. "It allows us to be closer to the employers. There will be so many more jobs. The idea of the grant program is to train people for these jobs, to make our community more vibrant by having people live here and work here."
The Nurse Aide students are excited about the opportunities opening for them.
"I'm happy for this program," said student Karen Wynn, of Dunn. "It's giving me the opportunity to become a certified nursing assistant and go into the workforce. My ultimate goal is to be a phlebotomist."
On a typical day in the nurse aide class, the students learned and practiced skills such as washing a patient and caring for the feet, teeth and nails. Nurse Sandra Bass, the instructor, demonstrated each of the procedures, using student Amanda Fechner as the "patient."
Fechner said she moved from Oklahoma to North Carolina to live with her aunt, who is an LPN in Angier, and to attend CCCC.
"I plan to go on and be a pediatric nurse," she said. "It's a great opportunity to have a grant-funded course at the time the Central Campus Hospital will be opening. For all of us, the medical corridor means more positions and more opportunities to advance."
To qualify for the New Generation Careers grant-funded program, applicants must be 18-to-30 years of age, have a high school diploma or the equivalent, be a North Carolina resident, be in the United States legally, and have a Social Security number.
Harnett County, with Dunn as its largest city, is among the top five fastest growing "micropolitan" areas in the nation, with a population of nearly 118,000. The N.C. Employment Security Commission sees a growing need for healthcare workers in the area. For example, it estimates an additional 187 licensed and vocational nurses and 147 nurse aides, orderlies, and attendants will be needed by 2016.
"Central Carolina Community College, with its community partners, is working to ensure that residents in our area have the training they need to qualify for successful, in-demand careers," said CCCC President Bud Marchant. "The New Generation Career Grant is enabling us to reach even more people with training. Health care in Harnett County is moving forward rapidly and we are grateful that our graduates are - and will continue to be --- an important part of that."
For more information about the New Generation Careers Grant program, contact Stephenson at 910-814-8833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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