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Technical college and high school program graduates nursing assistants

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) -- Another successful college and high school credit program has prepared students for the workforce sooner. Thirty­-three northwoods high school students recently got a jump on college and careers in healthcare by graduating from Nicolet College's Certified Nursing Assistant program.

What's unique is all of the students completed the program by taking Nicolet classes held in their high schools. State officials and educators have been working on ways for high school students to gain technical college credits while still in high school as a way to jump­start a career.

Dean of Health Occupations Lenore Mangles says they found a space in student's busy days to get the training so they could be certified.  "We offer the course zero and first hours. Normally first hour is 8 to 9 am. We had the kids come in at 'zero' hour and first hour then take the rest of their classes."

The Nursing Assistant Program is 120 hours.

Last year Nicolet held CNA classes in Rhinelander, Tomahawk, Lakeland Union, and Three Lakes high schools. She says three other high schools are interested. Eight to nine students make up a class.

Mangles says having the technical degree at high school graduation gives a young person an option to work right away, or to go for a more advanced degree.  "Then, for example, if they've taken high school chemistry and they come into the college and take one semester, they could be on the list to get on the nursing program. And that cuts maybe six months to a year off the wait time to get into the program."

Mangles says they've also opened an evening CNA class for adult community members at the high schools.

Similar programs with technical college credits at high schools are offered at other state campuses. Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson was at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau nearly two weeks ago. He says these programs are the key to getting young people into the workforce faster.