DMACC-DCH partnership gives local students taste of medicine

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The 16 Perry-are high school juniors and seniors completing the DMACC-DCH-partnered CNA training include, front row from left, Carli Major, Mariah McNamara, Hannah Meister, Caitlyn Sullivan, Chelsea Kruger, Denisse Gonzalez, Gyzylgul Hojalyyeva, Cristina Hegstrom and Instructor Laura Hackfort, back row from left, Kathryn Taylor, Madison Nelson, Lesley Mendoza, Jordan Pierce, Jacob Horn, Jenna Howegner, Hannah Mahlum, Maggi Mallon and Instructor Sally Swenson.

Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) and the Dallas County Hospital partnered again during the 2015-2016 academic to allow juniors and seniors from area high schools to take a four-course series in health career basics.

The three-hour classes in the Introduction to Health Care Careers series offered students the opportunity to observe medical professional roles in the fields of pharmacy, physical therapy, nursing, physicians, clinics, laboratory and radiology. Additional course work included medical terminology and completion of the nurse aide and advanced nurse aide courses.

“With the completion of these four courses, students have the tools to take and pass the state of Iowa Certified Nurse Aide test with the goal of working in a hospital or nursing home or even furthering their education to become a registered nurse or physician,” said Sally Swenson, Dallas County Hospital Education Manager and an instructor for the courses.

As a complement to their in-class work, the students completed a total of 60 hours of practical work, Swenson said.

“It gave them a taste of what it’s like to do morning and bedtime care,” she said. “The students were also able to observe surgeries and diagnostic testing.” Swenson said the hands-on interaction quickly became one of the students’ favorite activities.

This DMACC-DCH partnered courses will be offered again in the 2016-2017 school year thanks to further partnerships between the college, area school districts and the hospital.

Swenson said the demand  for Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs) is high, and students with CNA degrees can start working immediately in a variety of settings, from home health, long term care, to a hospital. She called the degree “a great foundation on which to build a future in healthcare, and many of the students will be pursing health-related degrees in different fields.”

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