LINCOLN -- Lincoln High School opened its Health Career Training Academy in February and already 24 students have gone through the program to earn certifications to help them apply for jobs to care for others.
Several of the students are working as personal care assistants for Home Helpers NWA, a non-medical, in-home care agency in Rogers. The students are working 12-hour shifts on the weekends.
Registered nurse Emily Stephens is instructor for the courses to help students become certified in CPR and as personal care assistants. The academy is located in the school district's building that also houses Lincoln Health and Wellness Center.
Stephens, who also is Lincoln High's school nurse, said the training academy gives student an opportunity to earn a trade certificate that will enable them to get a job as soon as they are out of school.
"It gives them a chance to come out of school making more than minimum wage and helping someone," Stephens said. "This is a great stepping stone for kids who think they want to be in the medical field and to see if they like it or not."
Haden Gilder is director of operations with Home Helpers NWA and also serves as headmaster for Lincoln's Health Career Training Academy.
The training academy was formed by an institutional limited liability corporation in partnership with the school, Gilder said.
Students are required to complete 42 hours of instruction and pass skills tests. Students who are 18 years old and have passed the skills tests are eligible to work for an in-home care agency.
"It's been a great program," Gilder said. "Already, we've received interest in setting up programs in Prairie Grove and Pea Ridge."
The six-week course is a combination of class work and online work.
In the class, students receive hands-on training to help clients in many ways. For example, they learn the correct way to help patients from a chair to a wheelchair using a strap called a gait belt. They also practice helping patients with range of motion exercises.
Other training is interacting with clients and making sure to explain to them everything they are doing to help them.
Senior Kaylinda Alexander said the course has been helpful to her in thinking about a job.
"You'll never not have a job in this field," said Alexander.
Sarah Nall, a junior, said she plans to continue in the next step to become a certified nursing assistant.
"I had a grandmother in a nursing home and I would watch those who worked with her," Nall said. "I want to be like that."
Junior Terra Piearcy also plans to be a CNA and then later become a registered nurse.
"I just want to help people," Pieracy said. "I think older people don't get the same respect as others."
Lincoln Career Training Academy was established with the assistance of a $100,000 grant awarded to Lincoln High School last year by United Way of Northwest Arkansas.
In addition to the career academy, the grant also is being used for other courses, such as welding, forklift training, computer programming, Microsoft certifications and learning trades skills under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Jana Claybrook, district executive master teacher, said 146 high school students have benefited from the grant.
Next year, Gilder said, the academy plans to add training and instruction so students can become certified nursing assistants. This is a 90-hour course and would give students the opportunity to work as caregivers in other facilities, such as nursing homes and hospitals.
The academy is necessary, Gilder said, because of a shortage of caregivers.
"The estimate is that there is a shortage of 3,000 caregivers in Northwest Arkansas," Gilder said.
Lincoln's academy fulfills two needs, he added. It will provide jobs for students in Lincoln and will help meet the shortage of caregivers.General News on 04/26/2017