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Nursing shortage amid pandemic leads OLOL, BRCC to offer free health care career opportunities

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BATON ROUGE - As local hospitals feel the pain of workforce shortages, Our Lady of the Lake and Baton Rouge Community College have teamed up to expand career opportunities free of charge.

The new recruitment program will give 30 students the chance to become certified nursing assistants with free schooling and clinical training.

Students will be required to complete a three-week course consisting of textbook courses and hands-on training at Our Lady of the Lake's nursing home.

The entry-level health care career opportunity comes at the perfect time as hospitals statewide are struggling to adequately staff amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

" Our nurses are tired, you know. They are out there fighting day in and day out, on weekends, nights, and Our Lady of the Lake really wants to get some more front line staff," Dr. Girard J. Melancon said, the vice chancellor for workforce solutions.

Doctors have voiced concerns over the heavy burdens COVID-19 has placed on medical professions throughout the months-long spread. In July, Dr. Catherine O'Neal said her nursing staff was spread much too thin.

"COVID care is such intense care that you often need one-on-one nursing. I can't have a nurse taking care of three patients. I have a nurse taking care of one patient at a time, which means that we're running out of nursing care, we're running out of respiratory therapy, we're running out of physical therapists to help those patients. So, we're stretching that care to make it work," Dr. O'Neal said.

Care that certified nursing assistants can provide.

Chief Nursing Officer Nicole Telhiard at OLOL says there is a shortage of certified nursing assistants. 

"We recognize that with COVID-19, they [CNAs] are the right hand of our bedside nurses, our acute care hospitals, and in our nursing homes," Telhaird said.

Madeline Leblanc with BRCC says this shortage means help is needed now more than ever, and help is on the way. 

The new career opportunity will bring a pool of future health care workers who may be unsure of where to begin.

To meet the CNA course requirements, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, commit to working at OLOL for one year, and complete a brief interview process.

Leblanc says students will be able to find jobs at nursing homes and hospitals, as well as get exposure to other health care professionals.

For more information or to apply for the certified nursing assistant program, click here. For more information about OLOL careers and applications, click here.


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