NEWARK — The nursing program at Worcester Technical High School has been producing graduates with practical skills and knowledge long before moving into the state-of-the art facility it now occupies.
The genius of the nursing program is it allows students not only to intern at healthcare facilities all over the county as part of their training but it also is able to confer Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) status upon them as they head into their final year of school.
Ocean Pines resident Kelsey Cooper is among the students who will be eligible to work as CNAs before the end of her junior year. She’s currently interning at Berlin Nursing and Rehabilitation but after securing her certification will be able to work most anywhere in the area, earning money for college while she’s improving her skills, background and experience.
She was attracted to the program after her sister recommended it as a way to get even more from her Worcester County education as well as the opportunity to test drive a career before having to make a decision about it.
After her experience as a CAN, Cooper said she’s interested in continuing to college — she’ll apply to Salisbury University and Howard University next year — to pursue a degree in nursing and to become a chemotherapy nurse.
“I like the idea of helping people who have cancer,” she said.
Similarly, Pocomoke resident Jessica Benoit followed her sister into the program and already has a pretty good idea about what lines of education she’d like to follow and which aspects of nursing interest her most. Benoit hopes to earn her R.N. and eventually work in a hospital emergency room.
“I like the ER,” she said. “It’s always an adventure going to work.”
Jolisa Jackson, another of their fellow students, hopes the nursing program at Worcester Tech will be the springboard into medical school for her.
“I’d like to go past the CNA and become a surgeon,” she said.
Jackson hopes to go to Temple, Johns Hopkins, or Morgan next year and the money she earns working for doctor’s offices now plus the experience should help in that regard.
Putting kids in the position in which they’re most likely to succeed is a job the school takes seriously. Dr. Penny Makuchal, who teaches allied health occupations at the school, said the staff has come up with a new program to better prepare the students for careers in the medical arts.
Beginning next spring, Worcester students who might be interested in pursuing healthcare careers will have the opportunity to participate in the “Academy of Health Professions,” a sample track that will expose them to the three medical professions enterable directly from high school.
In addition to the CNA program, the school offers pharmacy technician and dental assistant programs. The academy will allow students to take several baseline medical classes that apply to all three tracks before selecting a particular course of study.
Makuchal said they were hoping to have at least 30 students show interest but have already had 60 say they would like to participate in the program.
“We expected a lot of kids but the response was even better,” she said. “The program gives them the opportunity to choose between tracks before having to commit to any of the three programs.”
More importantly, it helps students become functionl members of the healthcare community long before they’re livelihood depends upon it. The result already tends to be more interested, enthusiastic employees.
Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the Academy of Health Professions should call 410-641-5050 and ask for Dr. Penny Makuchal.