LIHU‘E — When six Kapa‘a High School students received their Nurses Aide certificate on Tuesday, they had no idea they were part of history at the Wilcox Medical Center where the certificates were distributed.
Kapa‘a seniors Kiani Pia Salvador, John Dumoal, Pia Uduando, Rayven Raza, Mary Ruth Victor and Serena Bryan were honored as the first graduating class of Nurse Aide students from their pilot program at Kapa‘a High School.
“Seven seniors participated in a rigorous semester-long course to earn their Nurse Aide certification and are now qualified to enter into employment in the health care industry,” said Kapa‘a High School instructor Kara Kitamura. “This was a momentous moment for the students, and for the school, since it is the first program of its kind on this island. Due to its success, it will hopefully open up many more opportunities for our students here on Kaua‘i.”
Hawai‘i Pacific Health said the Wilcox Medical Center’s Nurse Aide Program is the first Clinical Education for Teens Program to launch on Kaua‘i. The Clinical Education for Teens Program, funded through private donations, includes Medical Assistant, Nurse Aide, Surgical Instrument Processing Technician, Patient Service Representative, and Phlebotomy that is done in partnership with Clinical Labs of Hawai‘i.
These programs allow students to receive the education required for an entry level position in the health care industry, and are a starting point that allow students to earn money while exploring the health care industry and furthering their education.
About 50 percent of high school students don’t go straight to college, whether they don’t have the financial means to, or if they’re still figuring out that they’d like to do, said HPH.
“We will always have students that are going to head to college, and need the academic courses that prep them for that journey,” Kitamura said. “But there are also the students who are focused on entering the workforce immediately, and programs like this will give them the skills and knowledge they need. Education is not just about reading and writing, it is about finding the talent each of our students have, and pushing them to use those talents and find their passion.”
Donations from the Kaua‘i community completely funded the Wilcox Medical Center Nurse Aide Program that involved 80 hours of classroom didactic and video, and 40 hours of clinical lab experience. During the clinical lab overview, students learn and can demonstrate 87 fundamental Nurse Aide skills. The curriculum covers multiple topics, including infection control, safety and emergency procedures, basic nursing and personal care skills, and patient rights.
“The reason I got involved is because I know this program will prepare me for a career I want to pursue in the future,” said Raza, one of the graudates. “Wilcox’s Nurse Aide Program taught me a lot. I learned how to check vital signs, perform sutures like stitches, and provide first aid. We learned how to do everything to the best of our abilities.”
Hawai‘i Pacific Health initiated this Nurse Aide Program because, currently, there are no Nurse Aide training programs in the state that are specific to the acute care setting.
“We are sincerely grateful to our community donors who contributed funds to make this year’s program possible on Kaua‘i,” said Jen Chahanovich, the president and CEO of Wilcox Medical Center, and CEO of Kaua‘i Medical Clinic. “We were inspired to create this program to provide a pathway for high school student to receive hands-on training while getting a jump-start on a health care career. This can lead to an entry-level health care j0b directly out of high school, and it allows many students a chance to stay and work in Hawai‘i soon after graduating from high school.”
Kitamura said the staff and administration at Kapa‘a High School noticed the huge change in their student population’s needs due to the increased diversity and the impact of technology, and the pandemic. They decided that they needed to change the type of education they provided.
“The school struggled to find someone to support their vision until they were blessed to find the perfect partnership with Hawai‘i Pacific Health,” Kitamura said. “They graciously provided the nurse instructor, who flew back and forth from O‘ahu, to deliver all the curriculum. Not many people are willing to take a chance on a group of kids, but the Hawai‘i Pacific Health leadership, and the Foundation did, and it paid off with 100 percent of the participants successfully completing the course.”
Hawai‘i Pacific Health’s first graduating class of Nurse Aides included eight students from Pearl City High School in spring, 2019. Since then, Hawai‘i Pacific Health has offered the Nurse Aide Program at five other high schools, as well as started a summer program with its community partners Residential Youth Services and Empowerment, and Queen Liliu‘okalani Trust.
“This is very important to all of us,” Chahanovich said. “One thing about being in health care is that there are endless opportunities. From where you start to where you end, you have quite a career path to consider. We celebrate all of our Nurse Aide graduates on this journey, and look forward to them possibly working alongside us at Wilcox Medical Center.”
Source: The Garden Island