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For TCHS Health Occupations students, good things come in threes

West Grove, PA – It’s sometimes said that bad things come inthrees. For Health Occupations students at the TCHS Health OccupationsChester County Technical CollegeHigh School (TCHS), good things came in three. Students in the program had theopportunity to get a head start on making career choices in the healthcarefield, become Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), and receive college creditwhile still in high school.

 Eight TCHS Health Occupations students recently tookadvantage of the opportunity to become Pennsylvania state-certified nursingassistants prior to high school graduation.

In association with Delaware County Community College(DCCC), TCHS Health Occupations instructor Anne Marie McCauley, RN, MS, wasable to create a program that would give high school juniors and seniors theability to become Certified Nursing Assistants.

“I taught the college-level CNA course using DCCC’s curriculum,”said McCauley. “During that time the students took part in both the classroominstruction portion of the course and the simulation lab portion of thecourse.  Once they successfullypassed that portion of the class, they completed 40 hours of clinicalinstruction at a long-term care retirement home in Kennett Square.”

After the completion of the clinical hours, the studentswere then able to take the certification test to become a nursing assistant inPennsylvania. All 8 students who took the test passed. Also, the students eachreceived 4 college credits for the course, though that opportunity will not beavailable this year.

“It was a lot of hard work, but it was definitely worth itin the end,” said Rachael Mendenhall, a senior in the program from OctoraraHigh School. “It’s a great opportunity to be able to advance my education andalready begin preparing for college.”

Thanks to grant funding provided by CCRES, an educationaland behavioral health services agency, the program was provided free of cost tothe students with the exception of the fee for the state’s CNA test.

According to McCauley, becoming a CNA is consideredachieving the first step of the nursing career ladder.

“Students entering other health care fields can gainexperience by becoming a CNA and working in the medical field while they arepursuing the next step of their medical career,” said McCauley. “These studentswill have the opportunity to work in the field of medicine and experience theexciting changes that are happening day to day.”

The TCHS Health Occupations program allows students toexplore various areas of health care in order to be able to make theirtransition into the post secondary world. Students also have the opportunity toreceive certification in CPR/AED.

“Being a student in Health Occupations gave me a chance tosee if nursing really is something I’m interested in,” said Stephanie Holcomb,a senior in the program from Avon Grove High School. “Learning anatomy andphysiology, medial abbreviations and terms, and being exposed to many differentareas of careers in health care helped me figure out what I really have aninterest in.”

Both Holcomb and Mendenhall plan on going to college tobecome surgical assistants, while many other graduates of the program choose tocontinue their education to pursue careers in nursing, sports medicine,physical therapy, radiology, and dental assisting, or other healthcare fields.

For example, 2010 TCHS graduate and CNA program student, LizStracka, is currently enrolled in the Photo Imaging program at Delaware Techwith the hopes of becoming a medical photographer.

“After I complete my degree at Delaware Tech, I want to goon to obtain a bachelor’s degree in photography and minor in somethinghealthcare-related, which I already have a head start on with the nursingassistant certification I received in high school,” said Stracka.

In addition to Holcomb, Mendenhall, and Stracka, theremaining five students include: Carlin Boyer, Radiology Technician programstudent at Harrisburg Area Community College; Devin Di Martino, nursing programstudent at Cecil Community College; Susan Lopez, student at Delaware CountyCommunity College; Lindsey Stoltzfus, Kinesiology major at Penn StateUniversity; and Samantha Wright, nursing program student at Cecil CommunityCollege.

The Chester County Technical College High School isaccepting applications for the 2011-12 school year. For more information,please visit

Pictured Above:  Students in the Health Occupations programat the Chester County Technical College High School (TCHS) had the opportunityto get a head start on making career choices in the healthcare field, becomeCertified Nursing Assistants (CNA), and receive college credit while still inhigh school. Pictured (from left to right) is Rachael Mendenhall, Octorara HighSchool senior, and Stephanie Holcomb, Avon Grove High School senior, in thehealth science lab at TCHS. Both are students in the Health Occupations programwho became Certified Nursing Assistants while still in high school.