It is doubtful you can find any health care-related facility in the area that has not had a student intern or hired a graduate from the Laurel Oaks Career Campus Health Technology Program.
Instructor Theresa Chmidling says most students tend to stay close to home and have matriculated to hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and other health care providers in Clinton, Highland and Fayette counties.
However, Chmidling emphasizes that the Laurel Oaks’ training provides preparation to work anywhere in a field with more jobs than the national average, a fact that can be attributed in part to the rising elderly population.
“Our students are trained to do head-to-toe patient care,” Chmidling says.
In addition to careers in nursing, the training can lead to jobs as laboratory or pharmacy technicians, radiology assistants and in health information.
Specifically, Chmidling’s class preps students to become State Tested Nursing Assistants (STNAs) who provide patient care under the direction or supervision of a registered nurse or physician. Their role is to be front-line care providers to the home’s patients, attending to their daily needs and monitoring their physical and mental conditions.
Typically, they are the staff members who have the most direct contact with patients and serve as the “eyes and ears” of the trained nursing staff. When a patient’s condition deteriorates, the STNAs are the ones who usually notice and bring it to the attention of senior staff.
Danielle Hess, a 2014 graduate of the program, decided to go into nursing as a teenager to help out at home with an older brother who had a myriad of health issues.
Hess has been working as an STNA with a home health agency while attending Beckfield College where she will earn a licensed practical nurse certification this month. She already has a new job as a staff nurse lined up at the Lebanon Correctional Institute and plans to put some money away for a year or so in order to return to college to earn a degree and become a full-fledged registered nurse.
She even has goals and plans beyond that. “I want to get my master’s in nursing and minor in psychology,” Hess says.
Hess says her Laurel Oaks training was first rate, particularly the expertise provided by Chmidling. “She is an amazing woman,” Hess said. “She always found ways to make you understand what you were looking at and is very, very good at what she does.”
Hess also said her decision to leave Miami Trace High School for her last two years was an easy one. “It wasn’t hard for me at all,” she said. “It was a jump to leave all my friends behind, but worth it to get a leg up on everybody. I chose what was more important – my future. I still have those friends and some have said they wished they had gone to the Oaks.”
Josh Cox, a 2013 graduate of the program from Leesburg, felt the same way about his decision to attend Laurel Oaks. Although he has only used the experience to secure a secondary role at his current employer, he knows it is a good foundation for potential future plans in many fields.
Cox is a machine operator at New Vienna plastics manufacturer Huhtamaki but also acts as the fire and medical first responder. “I teach the use of medical equipment and fire extinguishers at work,” says Cox, who is also a volunteer fire fighter and plans to become licensed as an emergency medical technician.
Cox says his non-clinical experience at Laurel Oaks brought him out of his shell and has prepared him for future leadership roles at his current employer or in any field. “I wasn’t much of a leader, but the time I spent at Laurel Oaks taught you to lead the way – not just follow,” Cox said.
The professional skills, good values and work ethic exhibited by Hess and Cox are exactly what employers are looking for indicates Lori Evans, assistant director of nursing at Continental Manor Nursing Home in Blanchester. “We are looking for those who have the education, but are dependable and accountable,” Evans says.
Laurel Oaks is part of Great Oaks Career Campuses, which specialize in career development and technical training for high school students and adults in southwest Ohio. Great Oaks has locations in Wilmington (Laurel Oaks), Sharonville (Scarlet Oaks), Dent (Diamond Oaks) and Milford (Live Oaks).
Great Oaks offers the chance for high school students to prepare for careers and college and for adults to get training and certification to begin a new career or advance in a current career.
Applications are being accepted now for all programs at Great Oaks Career Campuses in the 2015-16 school year. For more information or to apply for any program, go to www.greatoaks.com.
Submitted by Dana Dunn on behalf of Great Oaks Career Campuses.