20 high-schoolers complete Healthcare Heroes pilot LNA program: ‘This is an investment in their future’

Healthcare Heroes in the Making, an initiative of New Hampshire Needs Caregivers, this week celebrated its first cohort of high school students trained to be licensed nursing assistants (LNAs).

A pinning ceremony on May 25 at LNA Health Careers in Manchester marked the completion of the grant-funded Healthcare Heroes in the Making pilot program. These 20 high school students are now set to begin a career pathway as LNAs which will help fill critical in-demand positions in New Hampshire’s healthcare workforce shortage.

“I’m so inspired by these high school students,” said Lynn Carpenter, NH Needs Caregivers program director. “This is an investment in their future. As a nursing home administrator for over 20 years, I would be honored to work alongside these students. I have hope for the future of healthcare because of the dedication of this group.”

Healthcare Heroes in the Making provides high school students in the state with opportunities to explore a career in healthcare. The program is recruiting, training and placing upwards of 300 high school students aged 16 years and older as LNAs with through education, skills and licensure. Students learn lifetime skills, gain academic credit and clinical hours. The program pays training and licensing costs and includes 110 hours with 50 hours of theory and 60 hours of clinical training at a long-term care facility.

The first cohort started in February in the Seacoast region with 21 students from four area schools – Oyster River High School, Raymond High School, Sanborn Regional High School and Winnacunnet High School. The students participated in classroom learning two nights per week at Langdon Place, a senior living community in Exeter.

“This group is spontaneous, strong and flexible,” said Maureen Murtagh, LNA trainer at LNA Health Careers. “It was a dream to work with them and I am I’m proud of their hard work and the future of healthcare.”

According to NHeconomy.com, healthcare is one of the state’s largest industries seeing a surge in open positions, with an expected 15.7 percent growth through 2026 signaling opportunity for job seekers. LNAs provide basic but essential nursing care to patients at a variety of healthcare settings such as long-term care, hospitals, and doctors’ offices. This role aids with bathing, dressing, eating and mobility among other tasks such as checking vital signs, observing and reporting information and patient companionship. Many in the field start a healthcare pathway by becoming an LNA as a starting point to a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), a Registered Nurse (RN), a surgical-technical or build a life-long career as an LNA.

Healthcare Heroes in the Making is open to high schools across the state with 20 schools and 111 students approved to participate in the program to date.

Healthcare Heroes in the Making is supported and run through the Southern New Hampshire Area Health Education Center and is a program of the grant-funded NH Needs Caregivers! initiative helping high school students (16 years and older) start healthcare careers as licensed nursing assistants (LNAs). To learn more, visit NHNeedsCaregivers.org/high-school-caregivers.

This post originally appeared in Manchester InkLink on May 26, 2022.