June 21, 2024

DCCC: A Healthy Partnership

(Courtesy of DCCC)

DODGE CITY, Kan. — A partnership between Dodge City Community College and USD 443 will soon more than double the number of Dodge City High School students able to start their adventure in the medical field.

At its April 23 meeting, the Dodge City Community College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to expand the Certified Nursing Assistant program onto the DCHS campus.

Two rooms at DCHS will be devoted to the program. A classroom and lab will be provided by USD 443 and furnished with all the desks and classroom equipment, while DC3 will outfit the lab with the clinical equipment and medical mannequins. The college will also fund all of the lab consumables such as gloves, protective equipment, sanitation, etc., for the first year while USD 443 and DC3 work out the program budget going forward.

“This is a great partnership opportunity,” said Mechele Hailey, Director of Nursing and Allied Health at DC3. “The expanded CNA program serves a critical need in the community and will help grow programs here at DC3.”

The CNA certification is a hot commodity at DCHS.

“The numbers have exploded,” said Mike Martinez, Associate Principal and Career and Technical Education Coordinator at DCHS. “We are ecstatic at Dodge City High School to work together with Dodge City Community College like this to meet the needs of our students. With DC3 hiring an instructor to teach on our campus they enrolled fast.”

Martinez said that 47 students already want to enroll in the DC3 CNA program for the fall semester, and 30 are already signed up for the spring 2020 semester. There will now be three sections of the course offered, with two being held at DCHS and one still on the college campus.

Students are enrolled concurrently at DCHS and DC3 through the statewide Career and Technical Education initiative begun in 2012. Students who successfully complete the program earn college-level credit and are certified by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

Even with the expansion, the program capacity is at 30 students per semester, so demand can quickly outstrip supply. Scaling up the program isn’t as simple as adding more classes.

The CNA courses require a suitable classroom as well as clinical lab space to practice skills. The lack of available space on the college campus has been a barrier to expansion.

In addition to the needing more space, state regulations keep a lid on class sizes, so the college must locate additional qualified instructors – always a difficult task in this remote area.

“The State of Kansas requires a maximum of 10 students per instructor in the clinical setting, so this limited the number of students that could take the class at one time,” Hailey said. “We’ve also faced very limited classroom and lab availability at the college. With this partnership, we can overcome these barriers.”

For several years, DCHS students have been able to obtain a CNA license through the college. There were some summer offerings, but throughout the regular school day only one section was offered and students had to come to the DC3 campus. That meant only 20 students a year could enroll.

“Now with this collaborative effort students will be able to stay on our campus,” Martinez said, “and receive the training through DC3.”

Classes will be daily for the semester-long course. Upon completion, DCHS students are eligible to take the Kansas Nurse Aide test for certification.

“We are looking forward to working with DC3 to offer CNA courses on the high school campus,” said Dodge City High School Principal Jacque Feist. “We have quite a few students interested in this course and it meets a gap we currently have in our community. More of our students will get this certification while they are in high school, so we are hoping this will help with the job demands right here in Dodge City.”

As part of the Health and Human Services Pathway at DCHS, the CNA program can lead directly into in-demand jobs. The expansion will likely increase demand for the college’s nursing program, which currently has a waiting list for admission. Demand for registered nurses continues to soar, and while the DC3 nursing program is demanding, Hailey encourages students who believe they can rise to the challenge.

“Nursing is such a rewarding profession,” she said. “It takes dedication and persistence to be successful. The nursing program at DC3 is demanding to ensure that our graduates provide the best quality nursing care to patients. Our instructors maintain high standards, but they are dedicated to helping students succeed.”

For more information the nationwide shortage of nurses or to learn about the Dodge City Community College Nursing Program, contact Cameron Brown at 620-227-9240 or cbrown@dc3.edu.