RPSB looking to create healthcare career pathways for students
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The Rapides Parish School Board is exploring ways to respond to the critical shortage in the healthcare industry and provide more career opportunities for students through partnerships within the community.
During the July 19 Education Committee meeting, the board discussed two potential programs for Rapides Parish schools to do just that.
Through a partnership with LSUA and the Rapides Foundation, the first program would make it possible for students to earn CNA credentials while in high school through a summer Jumpstart program. The school board is currently in the process of applying for the Rapides Foundation’s ‘Future of Healthcare Program’ grant to fund the effort.
If the grant were approved, the CNA program would be offered in select schools in Rapides, LaSalle, Avoyelles, Grant and Winn Parish. The CNA training would consist of 120 hours of coursework and clinical time within area nursing homes. The course would be offered to 10 students in each school, with programs up and running in five select schools by the end of 2024.
Earning a CNA certification is the highest possible credential to achieve in nursing while in high school, and it would help to address a shortage that even local hospitals are experiencing. Across Central Louisiana, there is a shortage of more than 200 nurses in the region’s hospitals.
”They’re very excited about a potential pathway for high school students to become a CNA and potentially enter into either a nursing program for registered nurse credentials or the LPN track,” said Dr. Cathy Cormier, director of LSUA’s School of Nursing. “There’s also a great need for CNAs, so if students choose not to go forward in college, they will be equipped with certified nurse credentials that they need to work in healthcare facilities.”
The only barrier discussed at the meeting would be finding teachers for the program.
Also through grant funding with the Rapides Foundation, RPSB hopes to foster Louisiana HOSA-Future Health Professional chapters in Region 6 schools, which is essentially an organization helping students prepare for a future career in the healthcare industry.
Grant funding would cover membership fees, stipends to attend conferences and HOSA uniforms, as well as an additional HOSA program coordinator position for the region.
There are a few chapters in the region already, but the grant would expand it to about 30 chapters.
”When our community comes together, we have the resources to help students. We have the resources to close the gap in our workforce. We have the ability,” said RPSB Superintendent Jeff Powell. “When we all come together and have effective dialog, which happened at LSUA when we had the healthcare summit back several months ago, with Roy O Martin, with Cabrini, with Rapides, with LSUA, with CLTCC, with all these different entities in the room, good things come out of it.”
Both motions to approve a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a framework for collaboration and partnership for both programs received board approval, and both motions will be placed on the consent agenda for the Aug. 2 regular Board Meeting.
The process of applying for the Rapides Foundation grant is still underway, as well, and notification of whether it has been approved will not be known until late October.
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