Many students relish an opportunity to get a head start on their future while still in high school. For students in Tonasket interested in getting a head start on a career in nursing, there’s a new program available just for them, and it’s the only one of its kind in the state.
North Valley Hospital has launched a vocational program for the community’s high school students that prepares them over the course of a semester to take the state’s certified nursing assistant (CNA) exam to receive their professional license. The course can also be carried over for college credit, which is especially helpful for students who plan to study nursing in college.
The program got its start from mutual interest between the hospital and Tonasket High School, and the program’s first seven students completed the program this June. All of the participating students plan to take the state’s CNA exam.
To complete the course, the students competed 182 hours of coursework, which included 64 clinic hours in the hospital, where they got hands-on experience with direct patient care. The coursework included training on the basics of nursing, including how to take vital signs, have good body mechanics, prevent and control infections, take weights and measurements, prepare documentation, and care for patients with special needs.
The hospital has already committed to offering the class again next year, and they hope to expand the program to the neighboring town of Oroville 16 miles away, using blended learning that would allow students to complete some of the coursework remotely.
Expanding opportunities to our state’s young men and women to launch careers in health care will have long-term benefits for our state’s hospitals and health systems, ultimately making our communities healthier. (Tim Pfarr)