A partnership among the Mid-Plains Community College Broken Bow Campus, Melham Medical Center and Broken Bow High School is helping to train a new generation of nursing assistants in Central Nebraska.
The three organizations have banded together to offer a nursing assistant course for Broken Bow High School students.
“This is an exciting community partnership designed to give high school students an opportunity to experience health care professions while earning their nurse aid certification,” said Shelly Amsberry, director of acute care nursing services at Melham Medical Center. “The nurse aide program is very beneficial for these students and our community.”
Students have to be at least 16 to participate. Those currently enrolled all plan to pursue a career of some kind in health care, according to Kaci Johnson, MPCC Broken Bow Campus administrator.
The class will prepare them to take a nursing assistant registry exam, and upon successful completion, they will be able to enter the workforce.
The five seniors taking the course go to the college campus Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings for classroom and lab instruction before returning to their normal high school classes in the afternoons. Their Tuesday and Thursday mornings are filled with activities applicable to health careers.
“Shelly, Jenny Fox, the director of CAPABLE, and I put together a training calendar for Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Johnson said. “When something comes up that we think could be a beneficial experience for the students, we put it on their calendars.”
Johnson said the hospital has given the students tours of all of its departments. The students have also gone through CPR and Stop the Bleed training, learned about HIPAA and listened to a presentation about the role of an emergency medical technician.
Later this month, the students will go through Question, Persuade, Refer training to help them understand how to talk about suicide, identify the signs of suicidal thoughts and feel more comfortable engaging with someone who may be thinking about suicide. They will also tour the Broken Bow Fire Department.
The actual nursing assistant classes are being taught by nurses from the hospital’s Specialty Clinic. The college is providing the facility and materials.
“This class is something we’ve been working toward for about a year,” said Johnson. “There are a lot of regulations we have to abide by, so the instructors had to be trained and approved through the state to be MPCC instructors. Brett Niemeth [MPCC’s area nursing support coordinator] was huge in getting everything organized.”
The course consists of 76 hours. It began in mid-September and will wrap up at the end of January.
“Sometimes asking a school to release its students for two hours a day isn’t the easiest thing to do, but the Broken Bow High School has made it work,” Johnson said. “They’ve also been great about making sure there are classes the students can seamlessly move into once they are all done with the nursing assistant course in the spring.”
Rusty Kluender, principal at Broken Bow High School, said the partnership is a great opportunity for the students.
“It’s an amazing program that could enable them to get their NA registry before they even graduate from high school,” said Kluender. “We’ve got local nursing homes wanting them to work this summer, so they will already have employment options after graduation. Not to mention, they are getting the chance to see if nursing or another career in the medical field is something they want to continue to pursue.”
Emily Fox, one of the students in the class, is going through the program for that very reason. She’s using it as a rung up the medical ladder.
“I thought it would be good to get some experience before going on to be a nurse,” said Fox. “The nursing assistant class has opened my eyes to all the work that goes into the profession. It’s more complicated than I expected, but our instructors have been great, and it has been really fun learning all the skills.”
At this point, the class is only being offered once a year at the MPCC Broken Bow Campus and only Broken Bow High School students are participating.
Mid-Plains offers a similar course in North Platte to North Platte High School students. It also provides nursing assistant classes at a variety of times outside of typical business hours to better meet the needs of the communities it serves.