Expanding opportunities in patient-care education
Start with a certificate, with option of advancing to LPN and RN
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 8, 2012) – Increasing options to start in a health-care career is key in today’s economy. From home health aides to nurse assistants, employment remains strong, with opportunities to advance.
Recognizing the need, Daytona State College, which regularly offers its Patient Care Assistant (PCA) program on the Daytona Beach Campus, will expand its spring offering to the New Smyrna Beach/Edgewater Campus and summer at Flagler/Palm Coast Campus.
Graduates of the program – which prepares students to become certified nurse assistants (CNA), home health aides and patient care assistants – earn $9 to $12 an hour and have an advantage with employers to attain licensed practical nurse (LPN) and registered nurse (RN) levels.
“This program makes a significant impact on people who need a rewarding job with a living wage and clear opportunities for advancing in the field of patient care,” says Sheryl Gray, RN, coordinator of the program in Daytona State’s School of Nursing. “Employers across the region in assisted living, hospice, acute care and hospital facilities regularly hire our graduates, knowing the solid training they get here.”
PCA students learn critical foundation skills through clinical, class and lab experiences that prepare them for certification and to take the next step to LPN and beyond. Nearly half of PCA graduates go on at Daytona State for their LPN, and another third generally pursue their RN, notes Gray.
Key skills taught in Daytona State’s PCA program include:
• Home Health Aide Certificate
• Hospice training
• Infection control, hygiene
• Pressure-ulcer prevention
• Patient safety – fall prevention, ambulatory devices
• Feeding techniques, hydration and nutrition
• Personal protection – goggles, gloves, booties
The program attracts students of all ages and stages of life, from Gray’s 21-year-old son Trevor, who completed PCA while dual-enrolled in high school, now hard at work at two nursing facilities and starting in the college’s LPN program in January, to Amanda Carbuccia, who, at age 37, is en route to realizing a childhood dream of a health-care career.
For a number of years, Carbuccia had put away her dream, to help in her husband’s business. Her passion reignited while being treated for burns by nurses. “I saw the nurses in action and knew it was time for me to get started in the medical field,” she says. Completing the PCA program last spring led to work at Halifax hospital as a nurse assistant on the orthopedic floor. At the same time, she applied to Daytona State’s nursing degree program and was accepted this fall.
“In the PCA program, you actually get clinical and lab experience, which the short programs don’t do,” she adds. “It really helped me prepare to be a nurse assistant as well as be ready for the nursing degree program.”
Plans changed for Lindsay Martin, 22, who did the PCA program as a dual-enrolled student in Spruce Creek High. For a few years after high school she went to work as a waitress and bartender to save money for nursing school. “Then I could afford to go for what I always wanted to do – nursing.” Using her PCA training as an ER tech at Halifax, she started in Daytona State’s nursing degree program. With graduation in sight – expected in December – Martin’s excited to continue patient care.
“Nursing at any level is a solid rewarding job, which is why I got started in it,” she notes, adding that Daytona State has a well-planned path from PCA to LPN and RN, or straight to RN, as she chose to do. “I was one step ahead of the game, the way the curriculum integrates with work and advancing in the programs. I really love what I’m doing and plan to focus on critical care nursing in ICU or ER and eventually go into management or teaching.”
Trevor Gray is taking the path his own way, loving the daily patient interaction. “When I graduated from high school and the PCA program, I went to work at a nursing home right away – it was the best experience. Everyone in nursing should start as an assistant and really get that one-on-one patient connection. I love what I do and after my LPN I plan to go on to RN and maybe become an MD.”
PCA classes start at the Daytona Beach Campus on Jan. 14 (evenings), with April 8 graduation; at New Smyrna Beach/Edgewater Campus on Feb. 4 (days), with April 29 graduation; and again at Daytona Beach (evenings) on May 20, with Aug. 6 graduation.
For more information on the PCA program at Daytona State, call the School of Nursing, (386) 506-3757. Whenever possible, the college assists qualifying students for PCA with vocational training funding.