New class aims at nursing home shortages

Friday, September 17, 2021

The new Alta-Aurelia High School Health Occupations class is off to a good start, although the numbers have dropped from 10 enrolled to 7 in the first weeks of the school year.

School nurse Peg Hinkeldey reported on the class to the school board this week. Students will start their clinical work in October, partnering with the nursing home in Aurelia.

Between the school district and the nursing home, the students have been provided with hospital beds and equipment to use at school. A mannequin “patient” will soon be added. Local health professionals are coming into the classroom to share with the students.

The students who complete the class will be eligible to take their state test in January, paid for by the school district. After passing, they will be eligible to work in nursing homes anywhere in the state - so students moving on to college will have an opportunity for part-time employment. At least one student in the class plans to go on to medical school.

The new class is an excellent way for students to explore the option of a medical career early, pick up career skills, and find out whether or not nursing is for them, Hinkeldey told the board. It can also help answer a shortage of nursing home staff in the area.