April 4, 2014
From beloitdailynews.com: “YouthBuild program helps young people develop skills” – In honor of National YouthBuild Day, which is being observed today, those at Community Action Inc.’s Beloit Fresh Start program have been celebrating its impact in the community and opening its doors to the community.
On Wednesday, those at Community Action were providing tours of housing projects FreshStart students are working in the Merrill neighborhood. And to celebrate Janeville’s 12 administrative personnel from Community Action moving to the Beloit facility at the Eclipse Center there was a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. followed by an Business After Hours event at 5 p.m.
Since the program launched in 2006, there have been 88 graduates and an 80 percent success rate, according to Gary Wagner, program manager.
In the program, students age 18 to 21 who have dropped out of high school can get re-enrolled to attend classes at the Community Action Pathways Center to obtain their diploma and obtain job skills. Students have three career path certifications they can choose from — certified nursing assistant, business and customer service or construction, said FreshStart Academic Supervisor Linda Fair.
Fair said students can obtain their high school diplomas with the chance to walk across the stage in the graduation ceremony by taking online classes.
Next year the business and customer service certification will be replaced by a welding certificate. Efforts are also under way for the welding program to be held at Beloit Memorial High School’s newly remodeled career and technical education area.
In light of the successful programming, Candelaria Diaz and Ike Lee are visiting Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. today to speak about the need for funding for YouthBuild USA. The Fresh Start program of Community Action is funded partially by YouthBuild USA and is up to renew its grant nationally. Diaz and Lee graduated from the program and are now program assistants working through AmeriCorps.
In Beloit one of the most popular career paths for the Fresh Start program has been in construction. A few years ago Community Action purchased more than 17 properties in the Merrill neighborhood. Students in the FreshStart construction program worked on rehabbing the homes as they gained work skills. The homes are then resold to qualified low income families through the Merrill Housing Initiative.
FreshStart Construction instructor Deitra Green said students graduate from her classes with a pre-apprenticeship certificate from the nationally-recognized Home Building Institute. Green, an electrician with more than 20 years of experience in construction, said students completing her classes know how to use tools as well as the basics of building and fixing homes. On Wednesday, she was helping her students work on a home at 1346 Yates Ave. Many of them were learning the fine art of dry wall installation.
The students in Fresh Start’s construction program work on rehabbing a home to sell each spring.
Tailor Laidig, 18, is one of the students who will graduate with a certified nursing assistant certification. Laidig, who had her son in tenth grade, said she couldn’t continue her education because of childcare. At the time she only had 6.25 credits and needed 24 credits to graduate.
However, now her son is enrolled nearby in Head Start and she is able to attend classes at FreshStart. The program has also helped her get assistance with an apartment and transportation. Once Laidig graduates, she hopes to continue on to college to become a pediatric nurse while using her CNA certification to get a job as she gets through school. Laidig is currently attending some of her classes nearby at the Blackhawk Technical College site in the Eclipse Center and doing clinical work in Brodhead before she will take her state board exam.
Wagner said there were more than 70 applications for the program which can only accept 21 students. He noted that applicants must pass a thorough interview process and a 2-week “mental toughness” component to demonstrate if they are ready to fully commit themselves to the program.
Community Action is an 100 percent local, not-for-profit organization, offering a broad spectrum of community programs aimed at preventing and reducing poverty in Rock and Walworth counties. It operates the Fresh Start program, offers child care, at-risk youth programming, teen parent support, women’s health care, senior benefits counseling, home ownership programs, affordable housing units, home weatherization and rehab, assistance in dealing with a housing crisis, food for area pantries and shelter for the homeless.
March 24, 2014
From fdlreporter.com: “Green Bay hiring reflects statewide needs” — GREEN BAY — Job openings in Green Bay reflect those statewide, with truck drivers, customer service and sales representatives, and registered nurses in greatest demand.
“The top positions are almost identical,” said Jeffrey Sachse, economist with the state Department of Workforce Development. “The only thing that pops up is more welder openings than CNC openings, because of the nature of the work.”
Welders have been in demand in the region for several years. Green Bay, Marinette and Sturgeon Bay have a lot of fabrication and shipbuilding companies that require welders.
Sachse said that more than anytime during the last three years, hiring is up across the board. All industries are looking for new workers. Much of that is driven by the increasing flood of baby boomer retirements. Many boomers put off retiring during the 2007-09 recession and its aftermath when retirement funds took a hit, but now are making the move.
Construction jobs have grown the most in the region, driven by the U.S. 41, Schreiber Foods and Lambeau Field projects.
“The greatest concentration is on the Highway 41 corridor,” Sachse said.
Construction jobs increased by 7 percent in 2013.
“That’s twice the industry average,” Sachse said. “Those are per-recessionary growth numbers, and it’s more than twice the growth of any industry over that same period.”
The demand for health care workers is growing as baby boomers age and health care systems add facilities and bring older ones up to date.
In addition to nurses, the Green Bay area has openings for nursing assistants, medical and health services managers and personal care aides.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay has waiting lists for its health care programs, though not as long as they once were, and it ramped up its manufacturing programs to add weekend and evening classes.
“Some of our graduates six months out are making $36,000 a year as welders. Electromechanical technology graduates are making $50,000,” said Jennifer Pigeon, manager of career services at NWTC.
From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Information technology, nursing head list of local jobs” — WAUSAU — Information technology is on the A-list of in-demand jobs in Marathon County right now.
Laurie Borowicz, vice president of student services at Northcentral Technical College, says the college is doing its best to keep up with demand for positions in the IT field.
“We could take 50 more students in IT tomorrow if we could find them,” Borowicz said. “That’s probably our issue right now, is finding people, getting people into these high-demand programs.”
The technical college is trying to make it easier for students to take the IT track by offering more courses in the evenings and online, she said.
Jim Warsaw, economic development director for Marathon County Development Corp., said there’s a growing concentration of IT and technology-related businesses in the Wausau area and those employers currently can’t openings.
“NTC doubled their graduating class in IT and it still isn’t enough to keep up with demand,” Warsaw said.
In addition to IT, Warsaw said, other popular positions in the area include welding, skilled trades, manufacturing, health care, sales and nursing.
Most job activity, he said, is with companies that were prepared to come out of the recession when things turned around, most of which are larger employers.
“Small businesses are still trying to cope with the recession’s impact on their cash flows and equity positions,” Warsaw said.
The job of certified nursing assistant, or CNA, is big right now, according to Marathon County Job Center W2 job developer David Cruz.
One reason for that growth is that it’s easier to get started in a certified nursing course than in a registered nursing program, Cruz said.
Overall, the unemployment picture has improved in Marathon County over the past year.
The most recent figures from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development show the December 2013 unemployment rate for Marathon County at 5.7 percent. That’s nearly a full percentage point better than the 6.6 percent registered in December 2012.
February 12, 2014
From chippewa.com: “New CVTC simulation lab boosts medical realism” — When nursing students at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s (CVTC’s) River Falls campus are working on a training scenario with one of the college’s high-tech simulation mannequins, they can rely only on their own knowledge and instincts. There’s no glancing over at an instructor in search of a nod of approval for a chosen course of action.
The instructor is watching from a separate room, behind glass that students cannot see through. She listens, observes and controls the simulator to react accordingly to what the students do — good or bad.
“This is more realistic than it was before,” said student Anna Hinde, originally from Barron. “We are able to have some hands-on, real-life experiences.”
“We have a lot more space, there are more mannequins, and we’ve got a new teaching lab,” added Colin McConville of Hudson.
Use of computerized simulation mannequins — which breathe, react, and have vital signs like real patients — has been part of the CVTC Nursing program at River Falls for years. However, the new simulation lab that opened in January is a vast improvement over the previous facility.
“Our environment here is more representative of an actual hospital room,” said Simulation Technician Cynthia Anderson, R.N. “The old lab was about half the size of one room in the new lab and had a noisy air compressor in the room to run the mannequins. Our air compressor is now in another room.”
The mannequins were previously placed on something like old hospital gurneys. Now there are real hospital beds for the mannequins and sometimes live people playing patients.
“We’re not tripping on cords anymore,” said Bethany Geske, a Nursing student who lives in Menomonie, in reference to the power cords to the equipment that used to be taped down and are now under the floor.
The lighting is far better and includes a large window to provide natural light, but set high enough to prevent outside distractions and watchers.
Even small details, like the addition of an in-lab telephone, are important. Students sometimes have to call a doctor or pharmacist (played by an instructor) from the simulator bedside. “They get the experience of calling the physician, and learning how to speak with the physician,” said Anderson, an RN since 1990 with years of experience at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn.
An adjacent Learning Resource Center (LRC) for the Nursing program is also an important addition. The center is equipped with smaller artificial body parts like arms, hands and heads. Students practice skills such as making injections and inserting intravenous needles. For CVTC Nursing students, doing homework involves more reading a textbook.
“I’ve used it on occasion to practice skills like suctions and inserting catheters,” McConville said.
Mother and child
Another major addition to the program this term is “Noel,” a birth mother simulator. The mannequin actually simulates the birth of a little rubber baby newborn, with realistic vital signs and potential problems for the mother.
“The baby can be born breach, with a stuck shoulder, or with respiratory difficulty,” Anderson said, mentioning just some of the complications.
A newborn infant simulator, separate from the rubber birth baby, is also new. It shows vital signs and reacts like the adult models. A newborn baby can have a bluish hue, which is normal and soon fades. The simulator is sophisticated enough for instructors to prolong the bluish tint and observe when students notice it as a matter of concern.
“We didn’t have the baby mannequin before this year,” said Natalie Miranda, a student from Lakeland, Minn. “We would have to drive to Eau Claire to do that.”
Sometimes a birth mother and baby were brought from Eau Claire, but transportation and set-up are cumbersome, Anderson said.
Nursing students go out into the field to do “clinical” studies at hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, but the simulation lab work is an essential part of the training.
“It allows them to experience things differently,” said Jennifer Buekema, a CVTC Nursing instructor. “In a clinical situation, we of course don’t let students harm patients. Here, we can let the students make mistakes in the lab.”
“They set up scenarios that we may not see in the real-life clinical settings, but can see later in our professional lives,” said Miranda.
The instructor from the observation room can demonstrate with the mannequin the consequences, through a sudden change in vital signs, evidence of pain, and even a “code blue” cardiac arrest.
“A couple of weeks ago, we were in a code blue, when we had to do CPR,” Geske said.
The students say this kind of hands-on experience is one of the reasons they chose to attend CVTC. It allows them to be ready to enter the workforce right away, even if their plans include further education.
Geske, McConville and Hinde plan on getting nursing jobs after their May graduation, but going back to school to seek four-year or advanced degrees gaining experience as they complete their education.
December 20, 2013
From piercecountyherald.com: “Double Duty: CVTC grad is EMT trainer” — Jessica Brickner was not out of her element at all as the student speaker at the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) River Falls campus graduation Dec. 16 at Meyer Middle School.
Brickner has had a dual role in the healthcare field for the past few years. While she has been a student in the CVTC Nursing Associate Degree program, she’s also been active as a health educator.
She is a member of the Ellsworth Area Ambulance Service as a volunteer EMT and was elected as the service’s training coordinator. In that capacity, she speaks to groups frequently, teaching refresher courses to fellow EMTs.
“I’ve been at it four years last August,” she said of her work as an EMT. “I did a ride-a-long and loved it!”
Of the 39 graduates receiving degrees at the CVTC River Falls campus at the end of the fall term, 32 were nursing students, with the others completing Administrative Professional, Accounting, Business Management and Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement programs. In addition, four students received certificates of General Education Development (GED).
At the Eau Claire campus, 373 graduated in 33 different programs, with 70 nursing graduates being the largest program.
Brickner had long focused on a healthcare career. She started at a university with some required courses, but with difficulty getting into a highly competitive nursing program, switched majors and earned a degree in health promotion with an emphasis on community health. But she didn’t give up the dream of becoming a nurse. She entered the CVTC Nursing program and her background in health education made her a natural to become a peer tutor for her fellow students.
“I have numerous memories of working with students as they overcame struggles with a subject matter,” Brickner said. “Seeing the ‘light bulb come on’ and hearing students say, ‘I finally get it!’ are true reminders of why I like tutoring and being an educator/mentor.”
Brickner also works as an EMS instructor at the Oakdale (Minn.) office of Regions Hospital. She sees a future for herself in nursing education after she passes her boards to become an RN.
“My experience tutoring and helping other students has definitely given me encouragement and a sense of reassurance that a future as a nursing educator would likely be a good fit,” Brickner said. She hopes to work soon in a hospital setting, but adds, “long term, I would like to get my master’s degree in nursing and become an instructor of future nursing students.”
Brickner urged her fellow graduates to go beyond their professions.
“Demonstrate your strengths and strive to be the outstanding individual you have become,” she said. “When you are satisfied, challenge yourself a little more. Become a member of the community in which you live. Use what you have learned at CVTC to better the world around you.”
One of the current nursing instructors, Jennifer Buekema, was the faculty speaker at the ceremony.
“Many of you want to continue your education in your chosen field, and for that I say, ‘good for you.’ If I had given up whenever something was hard, well then I would not be standing here, and I know many of you graduates can say the same thing,” Buekema said.
The guest speaker was Deb Callow, the director of nursing services at Spring Valley Senior Living and Health Care Campus, who told a story to encourage graduates to listen to the stories of others. She told how her first patient as a nurse was an elderly lady, for whom she was to perform a head-to-toe assessment.
“I noticed numbers tattooed on her inner wrists,” Callow said. “I questioned her about them and she told me her story, a story of a young Jewish girl in Nazi Germany. Her parents took her to France and then sent her with nuns to relatives she never met in New York City. She never saw her parents again.
“I learned that day to cherish the life experiences of others and learn from them. I can never imagine what she went through and I will never experience in my life what she did. But what I really learned that day was to listen to the story others have to share, and learn from them,” Callow said.
November 11, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Real-world scenarios challenge health care students” — An alarm sounded and the blue light flashed. Paramedics, nurses and a respiratory therapist sprang into action. Each member of the team had a role to play, and they worked together, communicating constantly through each step of the life-saving procedures.
The scene last week in one of the labs at the Health Education Center at Chippewa Valley Technical College was only a simulation, and the students had worked frequently in the past with the human patient simulators. But there was something vastly different about this exercise.
This time, the students from nursing, respiratory therapy and paramedic technician programs were working with resident physicians from the UW-Health Clinic, all under the observation of professionals and faculty members. And this time simulator patients actually spoke to the students with complaints, questions and realistic reactions through instructors wired to microphones in another room.
Adding a little more flavor to the mix were volunteers playing the parts of family members who provided comfort to their loved ones, but also sometimes got in the way.
The hours-long scene was as close to a real, live critical patient care situation as the students would see prior to their upcoming graduations. In planning the training session, organizers could not find anything similar being done elsewhere.
“This is fairly groundbreaking,” said CVTC respiratory therapist instructor Don Raymond, who helped put together the scenarios. “Multidisciplinary education is becoming more important. It teaches collaborative teamwork, communication, respect across disciplines and professionalism.”
“This is to help all the disciplines understand the roles of team members and the importance of collaboration and communication, with the ultimate goal of improving patient care,” said CVTC associate dean of health Linda Krueger.
Four patient simulators were used, simulating a pediatric patient, a pulmonary embolism, a heart attack, and severe COPD symptoms. Students were used to working with the simulators, but typically they learned to do specific procedures involved in their disciplines, one at a time. The multidisciplinary training involved more than one patient in the unit to care for, with more than one problem, with other health care workers helping, and sometimes with unexpected results.
“Sometimes we operate in separate silos,” said Kim Ernstmeyer, CVTC nursing instructor. “We do our nursing thing, respiratory does its thing … in scenarios like this, we all work together.”
“In true hospital settings, everyone works as a team,” Raymond said.
“This gives them a chance to work together as a team like they will be doing when they graduate,” Krueger said.
Part of the purpose was to get students out of their comfort zones. One scenario involved a “code blue” – a patient going into cardiac arrest. In a fast-paced simulation, a respiratory therapist worked to maintain air flow while a paramedic did chest compressions, and nurses monitored signs and operated the defibrillator. A nurse eventually took over chest compressions for the fatigued paramedic.
The “patient” ultimately died.
“We were really hesitant to have that patient die. We did not want the students to feel they did something wrong or had failed. But sometimes you do everything perfectly and a patient still dies,” Krueger said.
That point was emphasized in a post-exercise debriefing with the students. Ernstmeyer told them that death was decided no matter what they did. Mike Miller, a critical care paramedic with the Eau Claire Fire Department and a CVTC adjunct faculty member, told students dealing with death is part of the job.
“Don’t get down on yourself if someone dies. It happens,” Miller said.
“We want you walking away thinking you did everything you could,” Ernstmeyer added.
Nursing student Sarah Crotty of Alma found herself out of her comfort zone when a person playing a family member tried to wake the deceased person. She had to deliver the news.
“I said, ‘Well, he passed away,’ ” Crotty related. “I’ve never been faced with that before.”
“Acting it out instead of just looking at it in a textbook really puts things into your mind,” said Emily Nelson, a nursing student from Jim Falls. “And not knowing what you are coming into is what is going to happen in the real world.”
The pace of the exercise was new to the students. Respiratory therapy student Kayla Bowe of Bloomer said she learned to “Keep calm, and keep doing what you’re doing.”
All student participants were in their last semester of their CVTC programs.
September 12, 2013
From wkow.com: “Inside the new MATC health ed building” — A new health education building is open this semester at Madison College.
The new addition allows students to have hands-on experience in the medical field, with rooms simulating hospitals, hospice facilities, and triage situations.
“In this building here we have theory they teach, they practice in the same space. And then the next day they go out to the clinical site and actually implement what they’ve learned here,” said Mark Lausch of the School of Health Education.
The more than $40 million dollar project was approved by voters in a 2010 referendum.
1,100 students were surveyed to get their ideas on what they wanted to see, as well as the faculty and stakeholders.