by Vera Mayer
For some years I have been working on establishing a training program in DC high schools that would enable high school graduates to get entry-level jobs in the expanding health care industry.
In conjunction with the DC Coalition on Long Term Care, a group of DC organizations working to expand and improve DC health care services for low income seniors and persons with disabilities, I have been nudging the DC government and DC Public Schools to establish such programs. My New Year’s resolution is to continue this work with the coalition on establishing a program for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in our school system. I think 2015 looks hopeful.
CNA programs provide a crucial link to a growing market in health care jobs. DC nursing homes, assisted-living residences and hospitals have an expanding number of entry jobs for Certified Nursing assistants. These jobs pay better, provide more benefits and offer more opportunities for advancement than the fast food jobs open to many unskilled high school graduates. These entry-level jobs also offer many opportunities for advancement in the health care industry. DC hospitals train them for tech jobs, a step upwards in skills.
At present, DC high school students who want CNA certification must go to another school after they graduate. These schools are licensed by the DC Board of Nursing and require fees ranging from $1,500 to $3,000.
In Maryland, such programming is provided in high school. Why not DC? This is not about creating jobs for DC residents. This is about making training accessible and creating a path to the better jobs already available.
Several of the hospital workers who helped me in my recent hospitalization were trained in CNA programs in Maryland public high schools financed by the school budget. Their technical and personal skills were excellent. What was especially encouraging to me was that some were planning to go on to Maryland community colleges to train to become registered nurses. Their future is assured. There is a nationwide shortage of nurses.
DC high school students with CNA training would soon find an additional path for career development because the DC Board of Nursing is revising its training requirements for all nursing assistive personnel who work in home care, nursing homes, assisted living residences, hospitals and dialysis centers. The revisions will ease the way for nursing assistants to get certified training on a variety of skills and work up a career level.
To educate the DC government of the possibilities for jobs for high school graduates, as well as the improvement of health care services for DC residents, will require working with the mayor, the DC educational agencies and the Council. I hope the Forest Hills community will see the value of this high school training and will support it. Please contact me for more information at 202-363-6347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.