As a Coordinator for the Southwest Utah Career and Technical Education Consortium, I have the opportunity to visit schools in the region and see the amazing things that are being done in Career Education. My job is to coordinate Career and Technical Education programs and pathways between secondary and post-secondary schools making it easier and cheaper for students to obtain a certificate or degree in their desired field of study. Our region includes Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane and Washington School Districts as well as Dixie State University, Dixie Technical College, Southern Utah University, Southwest Technical College and ACE Academy. Since it’s CTE (Career and Technical Education) month, I get to spend a little more time with my favorite people, students, and learn more about what is happening in each of the programs . Today I visited with students at Dixie State University in the College of Health Sciences CNA program.
While I was there, the students participated in a mock infections disease transmission activity learning how infections are spread. This class was led by Jennifer Harrington, CNA Program Director and Assistant Professor of Nursing at DSU. Assisting her were John, a former basketball player, who himself is hoping to apply for a CNA position soon, and Trina who had previously taken this course but is currently applying for nursing programs.
The students then practiced their skills at helping patients eat. The students were paired and one of them acted as the patient, the other the nurse. Having recently moved my father to a skilled nursing facility, I could appreciate the scenarios the instructor put them through as they were “real-life” experiences that I see in watching the nursing staff work with my father.
I did have a few minutes to talk to the students about their experience in the nursing program. When I asked why they chose this particular career path, the reasons were common ones that we hear when talking with students, that either they took a class they really enjoyed and wanted to learn more, or they had a great teacher who inspired them to learn more about a particular subject. I also asked how many of the students knew what they wanted to do in high school, most of them raised their hands. When I asked if they had taken a CTE course in high school, there were only a few.
What I want you to know is that there are programs and pathways set up to help students reach their goals, but are not well known. I hope to help change that. I am currently working to increase the promotion of Career and Technical Education, so that students can achieve their career goals faster and for less cost. You see, this is how it could work…
Students take the College and Career Awareness course in Junior High which allows them to learn about different careers.
In High school, students narrow their interests down, let’s say they want to work in the nursing field. Along with their academic subjects, students can take Career and Technical Education courses that will further them on a career path to nursing. For example, a high school student could take medical anatomy, advanced health science, or even classes like emergency medical response, exercise science or pharmacy technician. Most of these courses are also offered as concurrent enrollment and at an unbelievable cost of only $5 to the student. So, not only are they learning in their career path, but they are earning college credit and shaving time off their expected graduation date, AND have the opportunity to earn their nurse assistant certificate before they graduate from high school…see, saving time and money! Students can then move on to their Associates degree in Nursing, then their Bachelors of Nursing.
This is an example of being on a career pathway. Now, not all students are going to know what they want to do, but they still have the opportunity in high school to explore careers and get a better idea of what they want to do after high school, whether it’s moving onto more education or straight into the workforce (the subject of a later post!)
Either way, students who follow a career path from high school to college get to their chosen career more efficiently, and that is what I want to see.
I am encouraged by what I saw today from the nursing students at Dixie State University. These are confident and competent students who are turning their dream into a career. Find out more about Career and Technical Education at https://www.schools.utah.gov/cte, or contact the Southwest Utah Career and Technical Education Consortium.