Turlock Unified School District is constantly expanding and improving its Career Technical Education offerings for students, and grant funding secured this year made it possible to once again offer an invaluable program for those looking to jumpstart their healthcare careers.
TUSD high school seniors enrolled in the district’s Nursing Assistant Training Program (NATP) went to their final lab at Turlock High School on Friday — one final step before taking their California Nursing Assistant exam to become certified. According to Director of CTE and Program Equity Tami Truax, grant money allowed TUSD to provide CNA training for students for the first time since the 2017-18 school year.
TUSD seeks grant money each year to help support its wide variety of CTE programs, which include 10 industry sectors and 15 pathways for students in fields like agriculture, engineering, child development, health science and more. The CNA Program falls under the Health Science & Medical Technology sector via the Patient Care pathway.
Through the California Career Technical Education Incentive Grant, TUSD was able to secure $30,000 in order to provide CNA training for 15 students. CTE programs are meant to prepare students for both college as well as their future careers, and Truax emphasized the importance of a CNA program for students during a time when state projections point to a high demand for nursing and medical assistants.
Thanks to collaboration with First Lady Permanente, Patient Care teacher Bernadette Galvan said students have been provided with training for a certificate which will open doors to countless opportunities in their future careers as health professionals.
“TUSD NATP participants that move on to become CNAs will most likely be hired quickly at skilled nursing facilities or hospitals, as they are in demand,” Galvan said. “This will help our students who graduate with both a high school diploma and a CNA certificate in their hands to immediately start their healthcare career and move up the medical career ladder.”
Each CTE program has a stakeholder committee comprised of industry leaders who provide guidance to ensure students are learning current job-ready skills, from recommending equipment to overseeing certifications and learning materials. First Lady Permanente had previously worked with Turlock Adult School and now helps ensure high school students are highly skilled and prepared to enter the workforce.
The NATP classes are held in the evenings, consisting of 100 clinical hours and 60 theory or didactic hours, including passing the CNA exam. CNAs provide direct patient care like personal patient hygiene, mobility, feeding and helping patients with ADLs (activities of daily living).
“CNAs are frontline workers with basic patient health care, which is a career in demand in Stanislaus County,” Galvan said.
With so many pathways to choose from, CTE has become an increasingly popular choice for TUSD students. CTE enrollment has remained steady with an average of 2,300 student enrollment over the past four years according to Truax, and each year CTE pathways continue to grow.
While many of these programs provide students with the tools they need to enter the workforce, the technical and occupational knowledge gleaned during the experience also prepare them for the rigors of postsecondary education, Truax said.
“I believe it is our role to prepare our students to become successful in whichever path they choose as they leave high school,” she said. “Since students will eventually enter the workforce either right out of high school or after college, we owe it to them to provide job skills that help them lead successful and productive lives.”