The healthcare industry is showing rapid growth across Southern California and San Diego residents could strengthen their earning power with free career education.
The largest provider of noncredit education in California, San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE) offers six free Healthcare Career certificates; Nursing Assistant, Rehabilitative Nursing Assistant, Acute Care Nursing Assistant, Personal Care Assistant/Caregiver, Home Health Aide and Behavioral Home Health Aide.
Registered nursing programs can take minimally two to four years to complete, SDCE’s free Nursing Assistant training program, which prepares students to take the state exam to become a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) can be generally completed in sixteen weeks.
Faithe Thogode was raised in a family of healthcare professionals but never intended to choose the same career as her parents until trying SDCE’s free program.
Before attending SDCE, Faithe struggled in secondary school. “I have learning hindrances, I get frustrated easily and I just couldn’t do school because I didn’t care,” she said.
As time went on following her high school graduation, the academic pressure weighed on Faithe, 24, as her peers began to graduate college and begin their lives. She has been a barista and a doggy daycare manager for years. “It’s my time to learn, further my career and earn better wages,” she stated.
For 4 months, Faithe commuted from Poway to Barrio Logan to attend SDCE’s Cesar Chavez Campus, the Campus of Excellence for Healthcare Careers.
Though she may not be far along in her studies yet, Faithe had a career advantage growing up in a medical family. She and her father visited hospitals often and spoke medical terminology over dinner. “My dad would take me to work with him when we couldn’t find a babysitter,” explained Faithe. Both of her parents are well educated; her dad works as a Psychiatric Licensed Vocational Nurse and her mom is a Registered Nurse.
Through lecture and hands-on skills practice, SDCE’s Nursing Assistant training program students learn to assist patients as well as report changes in their physical or mental status. The comprehensive course prepares students for the CNA examination. Graduates become certified as a Nurse Assistant by the State of California and can work in rehabilitation and long-term care facilities such as convalescent hospitals, and through an agency or in a private home.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, California offers the highest employment level in the healthcare industry. The median annual wage for nursing assistants was $33,560 in May 2017.
SDCE’s classrooms mirror with what you would see in the manual labor industries, the Automotive program looks like an auto shop and the Healthcare Careers certificate programs provide a hospital setting. “The industry environment allows our students to engage in valuable hands-on learning,” said Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D., president of SDCE.
Following SDCE, Faithe accepted a position as a CNA with a Grossmont hospital. “My education from SDCE made me feel more than prepared to start my career,” she stated. “My instructors were also CNA’s or had in depth background in the trade. They taught us proper protocols to make sure someone doesn't fall. More so, they instilled in us ethics and integrity. This concept is important especially for CNA’s because strangers are relying on you to take care of them.”
During the semester, Faithe and her classmates were assigned to a handful of nursing homes and a rehabilitation center. “I never been in a setting like that, some of the patients were on life support and unconscious. I used to feel nervous going into these situations then I realized it didn't matter what my experience was thus far.” She advises, “if you have the willingness to give and learn, you’ll go far. CNAs are the backbone of the medical field.”
After certification completion, SDCE students are ready for entry-level employment or can transition to San Diego Mesa College to pursue an associate degree in Medical Assisting or Health Information Technology and then toward a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management. Mesa is one of fifteen local community colleges to take part in California’s Baccalaureate Pilot Program.
The goal, said Faithe, is to help my patients improve their quality of life, health and wellness. She plans to apply to nursing schools in the future to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Registered Nurse.
SDCE is the noncredit institution within the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD). Many adult students start at SDCE and then transition to an SDCCD college, City, Mesa or Miramar.