School, community partnership opens health careers to Yoakum High School students

Some excited Yoakum High School students are getting a head start in health careers, thanks to a partnership with Victoria College, the Yoakum Economic Development Board, and the Yoakum school district.

Twelve Yoakum juniors recently enrolled in the Nurse Aide Program as part of their high school curriculum. With the addition of the new program at Edna High School and the existing program at Gonzales High School, Victoria College is now offering it to Yoakum High School students.  

Since not all students go to college, the Texas Education Agency has encouraged high schools to provide vocational and technical training for students so they could be job-ready when they graduate, according to Marilyn Powell, Victoria College’s allied health coordinator and instructor.

Tuition for each of the students enrolled in the program is paid for by the Yoakum Economic Development Board. The curriculum is state-approved and includes 64 hours of classroom instruction along with 80 hours of clinical instruction.

On the first day of class, Powell asked the new Nurse Aide students to pull out a sheet of paper. On that paper, she instructed the students to write down the names of those family and friends they wished to invite to their December graduation. That revved up the excitement for the new program, Yoakum High School Counselor Reggie Guettner said.

“The administration, the whole economic development board, and the school board are all extremely excited,” Guettner said. “The kids are ecstatic about it.”
Instructor Ellen Gonzales will introduce the students to healthcare systems and teach them hygiene, basic anatomy & physiology, body systems, how to measure vital signs, care of the client at home and care of clients with special needs. The students will be doing their clinicals at Yoakum Nursing & Rehabilitation and Stevens Health Care and Rehab Center.
Upon successful completion of the training, the Yoakum students will be eligible to take the Texas Nurse Aide Registry Exam.

“The program has been received very positively by the students, faculty and the community,” Yoakum ISD Superintendent Tom Kelley said. “It’s filling a need in the community. They (students) receive the certification, they have the training and they can go right into the job force but at the same time receive high school credits. It’s a win-win situation,” Kelley added.

The Nurse Aide Program came about when the Yoakum Economic Development Board wanted to do something regarding health careers, so they contacted Kelley, Guettner explained.

“He (Kelley) contacted me to do a survey, and I found there was a lot of interest with the students,” he said.

Kelley is a member of the hospital board and served as a go-between with the economic development board.

“The class is made up of all juniors, and they’re very excited,” Guettner said. “They had their first clinical the other day at Yoakum Nursing and Rehab.”

“Last year, we had five senior girls drive to Hallettsville to take classes at night to get qualified, and they went to work.”

The 11 females and one male student seem unfazed that the former site of Buffington Funeral Home is now their classroom. After the funeral home closed, the school district bought the building where it now houses the administration.

The classroom includes two hospital beds equipped with interactive mannequins. The practice patients can “talk” back to the students, helping them to better treat future real-life patients.

“This is going to be a lead-in to nursing,” Guettner added. “They want to be LVNs, some want to be RNs” This will get their feet in the door, he added.

The 12 Yoakum High School students in the Nurse Aide Program are, seated from left, Reagan Friedel, Katherine Trujillo, Julian Zamora, Erin Cuellar, Brianna Villareal, and Selena Amaro. Standing, from left, are Kelly Dominguez, Leticia Ibarra, Miriam Rodriguez, Ashma Patel, Elena Garza, and Vanessa Cervantes.
Published: Thursday, 03 October 2013

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