First Class of Long Beach High School Students Graduate from CNA Program

Two female nurses wearing tan scrubsLast month, recent high school graduates pursuing health care careers received a certification for completing the Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) training program run by Goodwill, Serving the People of Southern Los Angeles County (Long Beach, CA). A graduation ceremony was held for the first class of students who enrolled in the training program.

The Long Beach Unified School District collaborated with Long Beach Goodwill last year to start healthcare academy programs involving three different high schools. The academies provide a career path for low-income students who do not necessarily have college plans, but demonstrate an interest in working in the health care field. If students successfully complete their high school’s academy, they are eligible to enroll in the Goodwill CNA program, free of charge.

When the academies launched in June 2013, administrators from the three high schools identified incoming senior-year students to participate in the new program. That September, students took health care courses at their schools while participating in the Goodwill’s preparatory training program one Saturday a month. The training enabled students to visit a recovery care facility, meet industry professionals and receive career mentoring.

After students graduated from their health care academies this past June, they joined their families for an orientation about the Goodwill’s CNA program before enrolling in a nine-week training session. The program requires students to participate in classroom instruction for the first two weeks, with the remaining weeks spent at a five-star recovery facility to gain hands-on training with patients. Students must pass a state of California Department of Health Services exam by the end of the training session in order to graduate.

The Long Beach Goodwill is the first Goodwill organization in the nation to be named a state Certified Nurse Assistant training academy. The agency has operated a CNA program for individuals of all ages for a nominal fee since 2005; however, this is the first year the organization has designed the program to specifically target high school students.

“Once our students become certified nurse assistants, they are eligible to get training as a licensed vocational nurse,” said Susan Gavel, program director and instructor for the CNA program. “This program is a great opportunity for students because not only do they gain employable skills, they also can move up the career ladder.”

Long Beach Goodwill Board President Harry Saltzgaver facilitated the graduation ceremony, which was attended by elected officials such as Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe.

Learn more about healthcare training opportunities at the Long Beach, CA, Goodwill.