STNA Program trains students, meets healthcare workforce demands

Apr 23, 2024 | Around Ottawa County | 1 comment

STNA Program students Olivia Marez, left, and Grace Mallow practice their nursing assistant skills on a mannequin. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

There is a building on the complex of Luther Home of Mercy that is sitting empty, despite a two-year waiting list of people who want to live there. One thing is keeping the building shut – there are not enough workers to staff it.

The Luther Home of Mercy problem isn’t isolated. Nursing homes, hospitals and other healthcare agencies in the region struggle to maintain a full staff. That weakness in the local workforce is being addressed by a unique remedy: the Ottawa County STNA Program. Now in its second year, the program is training state tested nursing assistant and connecting them with local employers. The program provides local high school seniors with practical job training and employment opportunities while filling a need in the workforce.

The program was started by the Ottawa County Business Advisory Council (BAC) last school year as a way to expose Ottawa County high school seniors to healthcare opportunities and train them in practical skills. This year, the program has 19 students – 18 girls and 1 boy. All of them have participated in job shadowing and clinicals, and seven of them are now employed as STNAs. One is employed at an area nursing home, and the rest have jobs at Magruder Hospital.

The Ottawa County STNA Program is training local high school seniors in employable skills while helping meet workforce demands. From left are: OCIC Manager of Workforce & Career Exploration, Katherine Adams; STNA Program Instructor and RN, Nicole Collins; student Olivia Marez; and student Grace Mallow. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

The students go through extensive training before state testing.

“They practice on each other and on mannequins,” said STNA Program Instructor and RN, Nicole Collins. “They learn how to clean people, change people, position people and ambulate people. The do nail care and teeth and denture cleaning. They learn about nutrition and communication. They learn anything you would encounter in a nursing home.”

At the end of the school year, student Olivia Marez of Port Clinton High School will be the program’s first dual-graduate. During the first semester, she attended Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy and passed all the certification tests. She then decided to join the STNA program for the remainder of the year.

“It opened my mind to the career opportunities in healthcare. I thought it was a narrow tunnel, but I realized there are multiple careers,” Marez said. “I job shadowed in several departments, and it was eye-opening.”

Dual-program graduation wasn’t offered before Marez requested it. Ottawa County Improvement Corporation Manager of Workforce & Career Exploration, Katherine Adams, who oversees BAC initiatives, found a way to grant Marez’s request, opening that door for Marez and for future students.

Ottawa County STNA Program student Olivia Marez will be the program’s first dual graduate this spring. She will also graduate from the Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“She made something work because that’s what she’s best at,” Marez said.

For student Grace Mallow of Oak Harbor High School, the STNA Program gave her the opportunity to explore the healthcare field and learn lifelong skills.

“I liked the job shadowing, especially at the pharmacy. That was really cool,” she said. “I’ve decided to go to hair school after graduation, but I’ll still have my STNA if I need it in the future.”

Next year, the Ottawa County STNA Program will expand from its current three days to five days each week and will include phlebotomy certification. The students who pass testing will have the opportunity to engage in registered apprenticeships that will provide both income and school credit during the second semester.

“The program is expanding all the time,” Collins said.

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1 Comment

  1. Scott Gresser

    People are moving to Ottawa County are not coming to make a living. The jobs within its borders are not here. But they are coming to retire. And that means it needs a stable and expanding healthcare community. Training STNA’s is a start.

    Reply

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