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Actions to improve health care career preparedness:

6a. Northern Virginia School Systems must place greater emphasis on career and technical training. This training does not have the same value placed on it in Northern Virginia as preparation for a four year college.

6b. Apprenticeships for high school students must be developed in conjunction with the health care industry. These health care apprenticeships should be considered the “first rung” of a career ladder.

6c. Strengthen interventional assistance programs (after school programs, summer programs etc.) in English, math, science and ESL through the greater involvement and alignment of business, philanthropic, civic and social service organizations.

6d. The school systems in Northern Virginia must develop interregional collaboration of high school academy health care programs and adult education programs. County lines should not be the primary or only factor in determining the location of programs.

6e. Colleges, universities and public schools should develop educational opportunities for students to study college-level subjects in health fields while still enrolled in high school. Thereby, taking advantage of the student interest in health care and accelerating the time from graduation from high school to college graduation and entry into a critically needed health care profession.

6f. Create a Health Care Career Bridge Program as the beginning college year for recent high school graduates. Fifty percent of the registered nurses and the majority of the allied heath workforce receive their training in community colleges. These programs receive very few of their students directly out of high school. The primary reasons for this are that these programs require prerequisites, the programs are filled (discourages high school students from enrolling) and many high school students require basic skill developmental work. A very small percentage of graduates from community college nursing and allied health programs complete these programs in only two years. In order to increase the number of students entering these programs directly form high school Northern Virginia Community College should institutionalize a three year program for recent high school graduates. The first year would be the Health Care Career Bridge Program year. During this year students would receive intensive assessment, academic and career counseling, complete general education and prerequisite course requirements and developmental courses. At the completion of this year, students could either enter NVCC’s Nursing or one of its Allied Health Programs or transfer to a four year institution. This Health Care Career Bridge Program would have the additional benefit of cutting down attrition in the NVCC and four-year institution programs.

6g. The Northern Virginia school systems should collectively create a Regional High School for Health Care Careers. This Regional High School for Health Care Careers should incorporate:

  • College preparatory courses (Dual enrollment. IB & AP) to meet health care program requirements.
  • Vocational and technical education programs to prepare students for employment in a health care career field immediately upon graduation.
  • Adult health care technical education programs coupled with basic skill & ESL education.
  • Intensive health care career counseling.
  • Health Care Apprenticeship programs.
  • The requirement that every graduate be EMT-Basic certified.
  • Co-location of a Northern Virginia SkillSource One Stop Center.

Advantages to a Regional High School for Health Care Careers:

  • Resource consolidation.
  • Elimination of the loss of travel time associated with academy programs
  • Enhanced alignment and synergy with industry, higher education, social service agencies and SkillSource.
  • Concentration of educational expertise and counseling.
  • Integrated curriculum.
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