CHESAPEAKE, Va. — A new partnership is paving the way to help people in Hampton Roads impacted by the COVID pandemic by finding a new career path.
This January, the Sentara College of Health Sciences will be offering 40 spots in its Patient Care Technician training at no cost to its students, targeting people of any age or career background in the Virginia Beach area.
The subsidized cost of the program is a result of a partnership between the college, the Hampton Roads Workforce Council, the Local Initiative Support Corporation, and the non-profit Virginia Ready.
“We have been working on this partnership since the summer, we put it together fairly quickly. There were funds available for individuals who are underemployed and unemployed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic," Executive Director and Dean Dr. Angela Taylor said.
The 16-week course will teach students medical skills and healthcare tasks such as cleaning and dressing wounds, drawing blood, performing EKG's and more, leading to jobs working alongside nurses and other hospital staff.
“For someone who loves to be with a patient do that hands-on care. Many people are hired into Sentara into this position and they remain in the position for their entire career. Others will decide they want to go on, further their education, typically to go to nursing school," Dr. Taylor said.
Historically, financial burdens have been the biggest roadblock for students looking to start this new career.
“The reality is we may admit 60 students, but by the time the class starts it may be down to 40, and it’s usually financially related," Dr. Taylor said.
The program normally admits between 40-60 students, but the COVID pandemic has led to a hard cap of 40 students this upcoming cycle.
The covered cost of tuition is made possible through funding from the HRWC, and the non-profit Virginia Ready is financially incentivizing people even further to apply and complete the program.
"We went looking for training programs that could help people gain credentials to gain skills, get jobs," CEO Caren Merrick told 13News Now on Tuesday.
Virginia Ready works on re-training individuals in the Commonwealth whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic. It offers $1,000 Credential Achievement Awards for individuals who complete approved credentialed programs throughout the state, including jobs in the healthcare, cyber and computer technology, and manufacturing and skill trade industries.
"We want people to not get into an entry-level job and stay there, we want people to have a foundational role that's a good-paying job in itself with a pathway to advancement," Merrick said.
Anyone interested in the training can contact Sentara College of Health Sciences admissions.