Wed, Jan. 22

Mingus nursing program puts students on path to career in health care

Staff photo by Paula Blankenship

REGISTERED NURSE Stacy Davidson gives students Tamsen Beday and Jessica Noble a refresher on the skeletal system. Davidson worked for two years at Verde Valley Medical Center as a clinical coordinator and pediatric educator.

Are you a nurturer by nature, a disciplined student and a diligent worker seeking a career in the medical profession?

No – it’s not another daytime television commercial, but rather an exceptional opportunity for high school students to get experience, money for college and eventually up to $62,000 per year.

“It’s going to put me one step ahead,” says Mingus sophomore Michelle Harris of the high school’s new Certified Nursing Assistant program.

Harris, a future pediatric nurse, says the class “gets you involved and to be honest, it’s not the class you want to ditch.”

Especially if you want to be one of 12 students wearing scrubs before graduation.

“The student selection process is rigorous,” explains teacher Stacy Davidson who evaluates students in their junior year before selections are made for the program’s second-year, hands-on component at Verde Valley Medical Center.

“This program kind of shows how it really is,” says Judith Emmons, vice president of patient care for VVMC. “When you actually get involved, that’s when it really becomes exciting and you can actually see the good you can do.”

High school students, says Davidson, will provide assistance to patients in a variety of areas including, exercise, nutritional support and bathing.

“Students will have amazing opportunities to interact with the public in a very caring and mindful way,” Davidson explains.

“It’s where the rubber hits the road,” quips Emmons, who, like Davidson, expects the hands-on clinical instruction will give students enough experience to determine if nursing or other medical careers are worthy of a college major.

And that’s when Verde Valley Medical Center goes one step further by offering CNA students the opportunity to score free tuition and books in exchange for up to two years of future service to the hospital.

“There are shortages in a number of medical professions,” explains Emmons. “The idea is when students finish the nursing program and pass the boards they can come and work here.”

Yavapai College offers an associate’s degree in nursing, she says, adding that students may also choose to attain a bachelor’s or master's degree at Arizona universities.

During the Mingus CNA program, students will learn a curriculum regulated by the Arizona State Board of Nursing that includes medical science and clinical instruction. Students passing the courses are qualified to take the CNA exam leading to state certification and will have fulfilled some prerequisite requirements for the nursing program at Yavapai College.

“The students will have a vast potential to explore and learn about health and wellness as well as disease and treatments,” Davidson explains. “I hope to intrigue my students enough to explore – explore enough to question – and question enough to discover some truths about our health and the world that we live in.”

What will they know when they get on the floor?

Medical science courses within the CAN program focus on basic nursing skills and emergency procedures, client’s needs and rights, communication and ethical legal aspects of patient care.

The CNA course at Mingus prepares students for a job as a healthcare assistant in a long-term facility.

According to a typical Certified Nursing Associate working in Cottonwood earns a median base salary of $18,188, according to an analysis of data reported by corporate human resources departments. Half of the people in this job earn between $16,589 and $20,023.

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