June 13, 2005
The first group of students from the Cumberland/Perry Consortium for Career Education recently graduated from nurse aide training at HACC. The 12 students are from West Perry, Cedar Cliff, East Pennsboro, Mechanicsburg, Northern York and Susquenita high schools. Some graduate from high school this month; others are underclassmen. In either case, all the students are eligible to take their competency exam for the Pennsylvania Department of Health Nurse Aide Registry. Most of the students already have jobs this summer.

The concept began with the Capitol Region Partnership for Career Education. The organization helps students make informed decisions about their options after high school. By connecting with HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College, the Partnership and six school districts from the Cumberland/Perry Consortium for Career Education can offer their students the nurse aide training before they graduate from high school.

"This opportunity is particularly attractive to students who are interested in a possible career in health care, but not necessarily planning to attend college immediately after high school," said Ross Berger, director of tech prep and secondary education at HACC. "Since a high school diploma is not required for nurse aide training, it becomes a good choice for high school students who are at least 16 years old. The students may discover they enjoy assisting others as a nurse aide and in time may consider using their nurse aide skills as a stepping stone into other health care areas."

Kathie Zimmerman, RN, CNM, director of nurse aide training for HACC, says the consortium concept is worth expanding.

"For our first high school training program, this was a remarkable experience for the students, the schools, the facilities and most importantly, the residents themselves," said Zimmerman. "A similar program will run for high school students from school districts in Dauphin County in the fall.

It's an intense course of study with homework, regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Any hours missed are made up in order to graduate. The students will have no problem finding employment; 11 out of 12 anticipate working this summer."

The curriculum centers on nursing theory, safety, communication, infection control, HIPAA, Act 14-Abuse, vital signs, restorative care, activities of daily living, personal hygiene, sub-acute care, psychological, dementia, death and dying, first aid, changes of aging, the role of the nurse aide, employability skills and resident rights.

"Working as a nurse aide is a rewarding job for those who care about people and enjoy working with them," said Zimmerman. "It's a good entry level position in the healthcare industry and a great career path for those wanting to pursue a degree any of the 28 other healthcare fields offered at HACC. Students can gain experience as a nurse aide and earn money while pursuing an advanced degree."

A fall class will start September 6 at Thornwald Home in Carlisle. Students can call HACC at Penn Center, telephone (717) 221-1352 for more information.

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