Students earn CNA credits through pilot program

SPRINGHILL – North Webster High School is part of a pilot program, partnering with Northwest Louisiana Technical College Minden campus to allow students to earn college credit through the Certified Nurse’s Assistant program.

Through the Jumpstart initiative, 10 seniors are earning dual credit hours, both for high school and for college, and will be ready to go to work or enroll at NWLTC if they so choose, Dr. Beverly Smith, Jumpstart coordinator, said.

“The CNA is entry level into a nursing program,” she said. “It’s an elective. The Jumpstart initiative gives students entry-level job skills.”

A CNA can earn their degree in one semester, which means if a student takes the course in high school, they are work-ready upon graduation. The program is designed to give students basic bedside nursing skills.

Smith has been working to implement this program as well as others. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls has been a strong advocate for getting medical field training into the high school classroom, saying it is important to give students a shot at a decent living wage.

“The medical field careers are high paying jobs,” he said. “If you get in at a young enough age, even at the lower levels, you still have a good enough chance to make a living and support yourself. It has career opportunities involved. You can grow with the job. For me, the medical field being the largest in Louisiana has the best paying jobs, according to job market statistics. It was a no-brainer for me.”

Doyline High School also has roughly 15 to 20 students dually enrolled in a welding course in partnership
with NWLTC. A total of about 30 students are taking welding, Smith said, but about half of those are also earning college credit.

The CNA course allows a student to earn five college credit hours, and if the student is dually enrolled, they are earning three high school credits, Smith said.

Tuition for the program is being paid for through state funding, the Supplemental Course Allotment Fund and the Career Development Fund.

Other Jumpstart programs include business management, welding, microenterprise, public service, carpentry, hospitality, tourism, culinary and retail, EMT training and four-stroke engines and ag-tech. These courses are not dual enrollment, but also paid for through state funding, she said.

“The CNA is really the basis for hiring to many medical fields,” Rawls said. “They hire a lot of people that have a medical background. And I think what’s going to happen is after we try it out this first semester, I think it’s really going to take off.”

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