Windham Hospital to Offer Nursing Courses at High School

A new partnership between Windham Hospital and Windham High School aims to provide hands-on training courses for aspiring health care workers.

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Windham Hospital is embarking on a new opportunity to get students in the health care industry.

Hospital staff are partnering with educators at Windham High school to create a nursing curriculum.

"So when students graduate from high school, they will have the opportunity, the training they need," said Windham Hospital President Donna Handley.

Windham juniors and seniors will get a head start on a program that's typically offered to students in college. As soon as they get their high school diploma, they'll have the ability to work immediately in the hospital.

"It's a big help actually because I know you have to go to college for this stuff and many of us don't have the money for that. So, it's really good we can do this straight in high school," said junior Bernie Gonzalez-Aleluya.

Gonzalez-Aleluya aspires to be a surgeon. Starting in the fall, he and his peers can take the first steps toward their careers by enrolling in the school's Certified Nursing Assistance Program, which is designed to give students training, shadowing and internship opportunities.

"Since Windham High School isn't a technical school, we don't always get these advantages so it's very amazing to have this opportunity," said sophomore Alyssa Lebisczak, who wants to be a delivery nurse.

The partnership also works to address the hospital's staffing shortages. Handley said it's been difficult to recruit staff at all levels.

"From front line staff, PCTs, environmental service workers, food and nutrition," said Handley. "We've been very strategic and thinking about how will we grow the pipeline? And the best candidates are the people already in the community."

Windham High School students on the health science track are also supported by the town. The fire department donated an ambulance to the school's EMT program to give students that hands-on training.

"This is finally an opportunity to help the children further their career at a time when we really need CMA's, nurses, EMT's, health care workers in general," said Windham Mayor Tom DeVivo.

Next month, Windham High School will host a job fair, where hospital staff will meet with students and teachers to explain what they do to serve the community.

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