GARDNER — Mount Wachusett Community has been selected by the Massachusetts Workforce Skills Cabinet Executive Office of Education to receive a Nursing Pathways Expansion Grant with a total grant award of $525,000.
The Nursing Pathways Expansion Exploration Grant was developed by the state to provide resources to public colleges and university nursing programs, including nurse aid training, practical nurse programs, and registered nurse programs to increase the nursing workforce talent pipeline and improve career pathways for the nursing profession. The funds provided may be used to support program planning and implementation of program-related staffing, technology, equipment, and operational costs to increase student enrollment.
MWCC will explore incorporating the Certified Nurse Assistant program into early college/dual enrollment pathways currently operating at multiple local high schools. These students will work towards completing prerequisite and corequisite courses for the nursing degree programs while also completing the CNA program.
Similarly, the credit bearing nursing programs are looking to explore collaboration with workforce development programs through the MWCC Division of Lifelong Learning. Students in these programs would also complete the CNA certification and may enroll in the CNA to Practical Nurse walkway program to complete the prerequisite and corequisite coursework. These pre-college programs provide students with a pathway into the field with an industry-recognized certification, while also preparing students for further education.
“The Nursing Pathway program’s stackable credential structure will ensure that students are developing skills critical to a variety of nursing professions,” said MWCC Dean of the School of Nursing, Kimberly Shea. “Students will be able to enter the workforce in well-paid, high-demand roles while they pursue their next credential.”
The stackable credentialing begins with the CNA program. Students who complete the CNA program may then enroll in the licensed practical nurse program. Students may leverage their CNA certification to find employment while working towards their LPN, and then as an LPN while working to complete the Associate Degree in Nursing program.
Through this tiered training process, students may elect to enter any of the three high demand career fields while continuing to pursue the next level of credentials. Further, students may also take advantage of the currently established transfer agreement with Fitchburg State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing online after completing the ADN.
The Nursing Pathways Expansion Exploration grant will also enable MWCC to supplement clinical components at regional health care providers with simulation equipment. Nursing simulation equipment allows students to safely practice skills without compromising patient care or safety.