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Campbell County Health is launching a program for high school students interested in healthcare

Campbell County Health

Campbell County Health (CCH) is launching a program for high school students graduating in the spring of 2023 who are interested in pursuing a healthcare career. The Journey Program will guide students through the process of becoming a Registered Nurse (RN), Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT), or Respiratory Therapist (RT).

“What we'd like to do is really just generate some excitement about careers in health care at the high school level,” said Lisa Coleman, CCH Manager of Professional Development & Emergency Preparedness. “Most people understand kind of what a nursing career looks like, but I think a lot of young people don't understand that there are other healthcare careers, such as the medical lab technician and definitely the respiratory therapy positions. So, we're hoping to just kind of educate kids about some of the other careers and I'm hoping that'll just generate even further interest, maybe about what else they can do in healthcare.”

CCH already provides scholarships for high school students, though the Journey Program is focused on education and job training. The goal is to provide these kinds of opportunities for young people to fill essential positions at CCH and in the state’s healthcare field. Students enrolled in professional development programs at CCH in addition to their college classes and materials will be covered by CCH.

“We know that we've got a few folks who are retiring over the next few years and so we definitely would like to be grooming some pipeline, or replacements,” Coleman said. “We think that these programs are multi-year, so if we start investing in these young people now and get them in the programs, we're hoping that will roll into staffing for us. Obviously with nursing, there's just shortage across Wyoming and nationwide and [the] same with the lab technicians. I mean, we definitely have a constant need for those.”

Hiring and retaining staff is a continual challenge. CCH projects that they will have a greater need for nurses in the coming years, which they hope the Journey Program can help fill. Because of this, they plan on offering more positions in the nursing track than in the other two.

For the RN track, the plan is to have accepted students become an CNA (certified nursing assistant) and work in that capacity for a year before enrolling in an associate’s degree program in addition to providing them a nursing mentor A test, paid for by CCH, will offer students to become a practical nurse after their first year of schooling en route to eventually being licensed as an RN. Students will also have a mentor assigned to them throughout their time in the Journey Program.

RT students will be assigned mentorship from an experienced respiratory therapist and a career development plan while working at CCH. They’ll also gain professional experience working in CCH’s Respiratory Therapy and Sleep Laboratory Department.

MLT students will work in the CCH Laboratory as a phlebotomist after completing the CCH Intro to Phlebotomy course. All Journey Program tracks will transition into full-time employment with CCH after the completion of required coursework. Students may work part-time or full-time during their professional development and educational coursework journey as well, depending on the schedules of each student.

So far, Coleman said there have been three students that have expressed interest in the program. An information session will be held on Dec. 14 at the Health Science Education Center at Gillette College from 4-6 p.m. Applications are due no later than Jan. 6, 2023.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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