CNA course ready for inaugural year

NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck High School will launch its inaugural certified nursing assistant course in the upcoming school year.

Naugatuck High School Associate Principal Kristina Wallace said the course, which will be taught by an instructor from Naugatuck Valley Community College, is part of a growing effort to identify more classes that offer college credit or create partnerships for students to experience career fields firsthand.

“We want students to leave Naugatuck High School able to pursue their happiness, whatever that means to them,” Wallace said.

Naugatuck High contracted with Naugatuck Valley Community College for $39,550 to run the course. The full-year course will run for two blocks every other school day, and cover clinical nursing skills as well as lessons in a classroom setting. Students will learn clinical skills at the high school, then practice those skills in healthcare facilities in the community.

The CNA course does not offer college credit. Students who successfully complete the program earn high school credit and can earn their CNA certification from the state.

“Our hope is through this opportunity … that we can create other kinds of pathways for kids to help them see their interests in real-life, practical scenarios,” Wallace said.

There are 20 seats in the class, which is full, Wallace said. She said about 75 students applied for the course. A committee reviewed the applications and selected the 20 students, she said. The course is open to seniors and juniors, and she said the committee gave priority to seniors.

Administrators want to see how the first year goes and will look into possibly opening another section of the course in the 2020-21 school year.

As the high school prepares for the inaugural course, officials are seeking donations of medical supplies to help offset the cost of the program. The supplies sought range from linens and towels to teaching stethoscopes and urinary catheters.

A request for donations posted on social media elicited questions and criticism as to whether the program was fully funded.

Wallace emphasized that the Board of Education fully funded the program, with the cost of supplies included in the instructional supplies budget for the high school. She said any donations will help offset the cost and save money, which could potentially be used for other programs.

“If we can save the school district money, why wouldn’t we,” Wallace said.

Wallace said the idea came from people in the community as the program was being discussed. She said several people mentioned they had old equipment, like walkers and wheelchairs, they used when caring for a loved one but no longer needed.

Community members have donated items like wheelchairs, walkers, gauze, pads and gloves, Wallace said. The district is also receiving donations, including a hospital bed and blood pressure cuffs, from area medical facilities.

Students aren’t charged to take the course, though officials are still determining whether buying the medical scrubs students have to wear will be the responsibility of the district or the students, Wallace said.

Wallace said an orientation session is scheduled for Aug. 23 for students in the course and their families.

For information on how to coordinate a donation of medical equipment, contact Jennifer Teixeira at Naugatuck High School at 203-720-5400.