Through a partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College, a group of Fitchburg High School students will have the opportunity to earn their Certified Nursing Assistant certification before they graduate high school.
“The Fitchburg High CNA Program is a unique opportunity for current high school students to earn college credits, while also attaining working credentials to gain employment in a health care field,” said Melissa Bourque-Silva, the Director of the Workforce Diversity Pipeline at Mount Wachusett Community College.
The selective program, set to serve approximately 12 students in the first year, will be taught at Fitchburg High School by a MWCC instructor as part of the student’s normal course load. In addition to over 59 hours of lessons and skills labs on location during the school day at FHS, students enrolled in this program will receive 30 hours of job experience at an off-site clinical location.
A grant covers the entire cost for students, including not only tuition but transportation to clinical experiences, fees, books and the certification test. At the end of a year of the program, students will have earned five college credits, CPR Certification, be eligible to work as a home health aid and eligible to take the CNA certification test.
This is the first time a clinical nursing experience has been offered through Fitchburg High School. The certification will allow students to either enter the workforce with a great entry-level healthcare job or advance to another nursing degree or more effectively work as they attend college. At as young as 16 years old you can start working as a CNA, which is part of why the CNA certification was selected, according to Bourque-Silva.
“This is one step in their education. They can take these classes, then start working, and then continue their education,” she said. “They will get work experience and will be able to work a well-paying job while they put themselves through college.”
The program is being paid for by a national workforce diversity pipeline grant from the Health and Human Services office of Minority Health. The college received the grant in 2015 with $450,000 a year in funding that runs through 2020. This program was designed to meet the goal of the grant to create a pipeline for minority and underrepresented students to get into health care careers.
Those interested can also reach out directly to Bourque-Silva at firstname.lastname@example.org.