PIERZ - For 10 area teenagers, the first part of summer vacation was spent getting a head start in a medical career.
"This is something I really want to do," said student Lisa Malisheske, 17, Hillman.
The students were able to take certified nursing assistant training, gain classroom credits, see what the job is really like and have grant monies pay for their costs. The program was possible through a partnership with education, nonprofits and industry collaboration.
It's an opportunity Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program hopes to duplicate in the future. Two years of brainstorming aimed at providing short-term occupational training in career fields that were both in demand by employers and wanted by students led to the program.
Nancy Stumpf (right), registered nurse and supervisor for the students in the certified nursing assistant program at Horizon Health Inc. in Pierz, worked with students on the last day of class testing skills learned during the course. A grant through Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program covered the students' costs. Students graduated from the five-credit course and gained work experience. Brainerd Dispatch/Renee Richardson » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Nancy Stumpf, supervisor who worked with the students, said they blossomed through the program.
"Every single one of them did an excellent job," she said.
Rural Minnesota CEP contacted area school superintendents about the program and school counselors identified 50 interested students. Funding partners helped Rural Minnesota CEP pay for 10 students in the first class. Horizon Health Inc. in Pierz provided a host site for the training and clinical practice.
The grant money paid for training, testing, uniforms and clinical classroom for a five-credit course that provided on-the-job experience. Students took part in the program from June 6 to July 9. They had 56 hours of classroom instruction and about 25 hours of clinical training.
"Nobody missed a class, nobody missed an appointment," said Gary Zimmerman, Rural Minnesota CEP youth services coordinator. The students feel they have accomplished something this summer, Zimmerman said.
"They did it and they are now qualified to work in the field and they felt pretty good about that," he said.
Alyssa Beseman, 18, Little Falls, said taking the CNA training and subsequent work experience would help her get a better job while she is attending college and help her get into a nursing program.
Students took classes regarding career planning, work readiness skills, and conducted career research at the WorkForce Center. In their CNA training, they learned how to care for daily living essentials for people in their care.
Maggie Mortenson (right) 17, Pierz, demonstrated the proper procedures for foot care on Kayla Tabatt (left), 18, Little Falls, during a skills test on the last day of the certified nurses assistant course at Horizon Health Inc. in Pierz. Classmates helped critique performances.
Brainerd Dispatch/Renee Richardson » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Student Kayla Tabatt, 18, Little Falls, said one of the hardest things about completing the class was leaving residents in their care.
The demand for nursing assistants and home health care aides is growing, Stumpf said.
"I have trouble offering enough courses to keep up with people," she said. "Nursing is one area you can always find a job."
Students were: Linnea Kasper, 18, Little Falls; Alyssa Beseman, 18, Little Falls; Brittney Loxterkamp, 18, Little Falls; Maggie Mortenson, 17, Pierz; Kayla Tabatt, 18, Little Falls; Melissa Mortenson, 17, Swanville; Tiffany Hastings, 18, Harding; Alisha Hastings, 17, Harding; Lisa Malisheske, 17, Hillman; Kristina Carlson, 18, Royalton.
Stumpf said the CNA is a stand-alone occupation by itself. However, many of the students had career goals that included advanced training. By working in health care, Stumpf said the students are in a position to give back to the area where they live.
"It's a really good fit," Zimmerman said of the program that matches students who want to learn with training for jobs employers are seeking to fill. "They can come back to the community because there is a demand in this area. It's just a good career ladder."
Zimmerman said funding for short-term training is available for a CNA program through Central Lakes College and for a welding program.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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