HANCEVILLE, Ala. — They are a small contingent of students, but they are pioneers in a new program at Wallace State that is training the healthcare workers of the future. They share a common goal of getting a quick start in working in the healthcare field by earning certifications that will take them less than a year to complete.
The Patient Care Specialist (PCS) program, in two semesters, provides students with three certifications they can use to enter the workforce at a faster rate, and with more qualifications than students in comparable programs. They will complete certifications for Certified Nursing Assistant and Electrocardiography (ECG) Technician. They will also complete the Alabama Career Readiness assessment examination, which provides them with skills needed to look for and obtain employment.
The (PCS) Program is a program developed as part of BOOST: Better Occupational Outcomes with Simulation Training – New Pathways to Healthcare Careers to expand and improve the colleges’ ability to deliver education and career training programs as well as improve student employability in the healthcare sector.
The two-semester time frame combined with the opportunity to learn more skills than other short-term programs is what attracted Rachel Brauer of Cullman.
“I need to hurry up and get a job and take care of my son, because I’m a single mom,” said the Air Force veteran. The ECG component of the PCS program was another factor, since her ultimate goal is to be a cardiac tech.
“But also, if I want to go back to nursing school, I’ve noticed that a lot of students who are in nursing school now and already have a job in a hospital, they actually have an easier time with nursing school than I did,” Brauer added.
Angela Kornegay of Snead switched from the nursing program to the PCS program. “I wasn’t doing well in that program and I stayed stressed,” she said. “Mrs. (Karen) Walton came along with the BOOST program and it felt like a perfect spot for me. I’m hoping to turn that into maybe getting into the Medical Assistant program next fall.”
Courtney Phelps was attracted to the program’s hands-on learning style, which will utilize 3-D technology, as well as the program’s shorter time frame.
“You learn so much in a short amount of time,” she said. “You can get out there in two semesters and start working versus two years. You learn almost all the same stuff, just more in depth.”
Once they earn their certifications, the students’ future plans can be enhanced with the education they receive in the PCS program. Phelps, of Hayden, wants to use the knowledge she gains to work with a traveling healthcare business. Brauer wants to be a cardiac tech. Kornegay and Taylor Bailey of Hayden both want to continue their education and Trinity Earwood of Baileyton wants to be able to help others.
Both Bailey and Earwood said they would like to use their certifications to work at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.
“I’ve been a patient there since I was 8,” Earwood said. “I thought the best way to give back to the hospital is being part of the staff. I know from experience how a smile made me feel better. I want to be able to do that for kids there.”