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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Begin a Health Care Career In a Few Weeks

Also see the related story: "WCC Prepares Nurses for the 21st Century."

More and more people are discovering that they can train for a new career in a matter of weeks. That’s how long it takes to complete the 90-hour Basic Nursing Assistant Skills class at WCC.

The four-credit class, HSC 100, is the first step toward becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA). After completing it, students are eligible to take a two-part exam to qualify for state certification.

“The class was originally developed to train people who were caring for the elderly,” said Renee Stark, who oversees and teaches the class. “That is because a federal study found substandard care in nursing homes and long-term care facilities serving the elderly across the country.

“Each state was then required to put in place specific criteria that nurses’ aides must meet in order to work in those settings. And while that was the original purpose for developing the course, people who get their certification also work in health care settings such as hospitals, home care, hospice, and private duty.”

Class is Required for WCC Nursing Program

Because HSC 100 provides such a comprehensive background in basic patient care, it became a prerequisite for admission into the WCC Registered Nurse program five years ago.

According to Stark, lessons cover topics such as:

  • infection control measures
  • resident rights
  • resident safety and freedom from abuse
  • bedside bathing
  • blood pressure checking
  • basic needs of patients
  • moving patients safely
  • written and oral communication
  • common medical terms and symbols

“We provide 90 hours of instruction, which exceeds the state minimum requirement of 75 hours,” said Stark. “Forty hours of it is lecture, 25 hours lab, and 25 hours is clinical where they get hands-on experience in a professional health care setting.

“It is wonderful to provide the foundation for our WCC nursing students. We also get a lot of students who hope to become physician assistants. They take the class because they need so many clinical hours under their belt before they can apply to those programs.”

WCC Offers First Blended Format

In Fall 2011 Semester, the WCC Basic Nursing Assistant Skills class became the first of its kind in Michigan to provide students with a blended option.

In the blended format, the lectures are given online. Students come to campus for their lab work and their three required exams for the class.

“The first blended pilot class did great, and we are just finishing up the second one,” Stark said. “We have one more that will start soon this semester, and we will likely be offering them from now on.”

Classes are scheduled to offer the most flexibility for working students. There is a Monday through Friday section, which usually runs three weeks. The weekend section extends over a nine-week period. And night sections, which meet Monday through Thursday, take about four weeks to complete. The College also serves as a certified nursing assistant exam site for the region.

“You start here, get your basic nursing skills, put them to work caring for others, and then continue on for an advanced degree,” Stark said. “It’s a great cornerstone course for people with that kind of career ambition, and we’re very proud to be a part of it. Many of our students’ future employers come to graduation and actually hire students right out of the class. You can’t beat that. You take the program and get a job on the way out.”

Returning to Hartland This Spring

This spring, Basic Nursing Assistant Skills and other popular WCC credit classes will return to the Hartland Educational Support Service Center at 9525 Highland Road in Howell.

Because of economic conditions, WCC previously consolidated its Livingston County extension classes into one location: Brighton High School. Brighton remains an important extension site for the College, but WCC students and Livingston County residents said they wanted classes back in the Hartland community.

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