adult-education model

Health care training in high school

By JoBen Rivera-Thompson

High school students are heading to Central Georgia Technical College for in-demand nurse aide training.

The local healthcare industry just became a lot younger.

Thanks to a program at the Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) Hawkinsville Workforce Development Center, a group of six Hawkinsville High School students passed credentialing exams in February to become Certified Nurse Aides (CNA).

As dual enrollment students, they are earning high school credit and college credit at the same time, at no charge. But perhaps the most impressive detail, is the quality wage each can earn at just an average age of 17. Having earned the necessary credentials, they are free to seek employment; three have already landed jobs.

Pay for nurse aides varies on need and location, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the median pay is around $12 an hour nationally, and has a “faster than average” job outlook.

“The students are required to complete 24 hours of clinical time, or three-hour shifts as a part of the program and those clinical hours really are the toughest for them,” said Crystal McChargue, nurse aide instructor, comparing the program to the examination. “They do it so they can be prepared to experience what is done from the start to the end of a shift. They have to go into a nursing home and take care of elderly folks.”

The students agreed that the transition from mannequins and classroom equipment to actual people and active systems requires a learning curve.

“Clinicals are where we learned the proper techniques for taking care of people,” Owens said.

“We have learned to improve the quality of life for the elderly. We have learned how to be more social and interact with patients,” Kearney added.

The three who have landed jobs are working at Pinewood Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hawkinsville.

Collins works there, and is gracious for the experience.

“Most of their family don’t come and see them and when I’m working most of them don’t want me to leave. It makes me feel good that they enjoy my company,” she said.

This story first appeared on the CGTC website.

JoBen Rivera-Thompson

is a PR specialist at Central Georgia Technical College.