By Michael Hazzard and Myra Covault
Healthcare workers are in demand in communities around the country, providing a lucrative career pathway for many. Healthcare and healthcare support roles made up nearly four in 10 of U.S. News and World Report’s recently released annual 100 Best Jobs Ranking.
However, one major obstacle prospective employees face is accessibility to the healthcare industry. For many, figuring out where to start can be difficult. To help remove this obstacle locally, a new initiative known as the Nursing Assistant Extern Program has been established. Slated to start this month, the program is a collaboration between Elizabethtown Community and Technical College Workforce Solutions, Baptist Health Hardin, the Kentucky Career Center - Lincoln Trail and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.
Through the program, participants can receive a CNA-State Exam Certification, take college courses, receive on-the-job training and mentorship, become acquainted with allied health career pathways and more. Students in the program will take a total of four classes, which are “stackable,” meaning they can be built upon if students go on to further their education. These classes include Nursing Assistant Skills (NAA 100), Intro to Health Sciences (HSE 101), Medical Terminology (AHS 115) and CPR for Healthcare Professionals.
Through the program’s apprenticeship opportunities, students have the ability to both learn and earn while receiving quality mentorship.
Participants in the program will take on the role of a nursing assistant extern, and will be paired with a nursing assistant at Baptist Health Hardin. Some responsibilities of the position include assisting patients with personal hygiene, transporting patients as assigned, recording vital signs accurately within an established time frame and assisting registered nurses and patients with exams and treatments as directed.
A key tenant of this program will be flexibility for students. Regardless of how busy your schedule is, the program is designed to provide anyone looking to take that first step into healthcare with the tools to do so. Whether you want to take classes full time and work part time or vice versa, the program will be tailored to your availability, and you have the ability to set a pace that is comfortable for you. Plus, students can join the program at any time and are not beholden to ECTC’s semester scheduling. The only requirement for the program is you must be at least 18 and have a high school diploma or GED.
Tuition assistance may be available for those who qualify through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and other grants.
The program will not only help students earn hands-on experience in the healthcare field, but will also be an asset to Baptist Health Hardin, and in effect improve healthcare in the region. As nursing assistant externs work with nursing assistants, it will lead to more face-to-face time with patients and individualized care at Baptist Health Hardin. The program is not only about training, but also retention. Hopefully, for many participants, this program is the catalyst for a burgeoning career in healthcare.
The program also highlights ECTC Workforce Solutions’ ability to establish initiatives that cater to the specific needs of employers, and the dedication of BHH, KCC-LT and LTWDB in developing opportunities that create a talent pipeline to address workforce challenges.
Those who took the time to develop this program truly believe the Nursing Assistant Extern program can make a difference in the workforce and healthcare of the region. And it will all be made possible through strong community relationships between members of both the private and public sectors for the good of the community. This partnership showcases the best example of organizations working together to build a career pathway for those interested in the high-wage, high-demand healthcare sector.
Click here to learn more about the program. Those interested in registering for the program are encouraged to contact Leslie Norris with the Kentucky Career Center - Lincoln Trail at Leslie.Norris@ky.gov.
Michael Hazzard serves as dean of Workforce Solutions at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. Myra Covault serves as manager of special projects for Baptist Health Hardin and formerly served as vice president and chief human resources officer. She also is a board member for the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.