Patient care class connects new Americans to healthcare careers

For eight weeks, two nights a week, students come to the LSS Center for New Americans with the hope of a healthcare career.


This class is the first, critical step.


Called Introduction to Patient Care, it teaches immigrant and refugee students the vocabulary and skills necessary to enter the healthcare field.


“It supports them in getting entry-level positions in the medical field, such as a patient care tech, but it also helps people who are CNA (certified nursing assistant) bound,” said Lauren Smith-Hill, education program coordinator.


“One of our students was employed at a local nursing home and was trying to pass her CNA exam and worked really hard and did pass it.”


The course is offered at least once each year. This year, an additional class was funded by a local donor and ran from May 8 through June 28. About 20 students take it each time.


LSS has offered the classes for years, but they continue to be popular.


“We never have trouble filling them,” Smith-Hill said. “It’s specifically for immigrants and refugees, and they come from a diverse cadre of countries and really have a dedicated interest in the medical field.”


The course is taught by former Sanford nurse Carol Hudson, who has worked with LSS for nearly 30 years.


Most students are working full time in other jobs that might pay more than entry-level medical positions, but they prepare financially to take on the new roles as a step towards a long-term healthcare career, Smith-Hill said.


“They have a huge passion to serve in that field and really want to work with people,” she said. “And some have a background in it from their home country.”


LSS works closely with hospitals and nursing homes to match students with opportunities. The course also includes time spent on resume writing and job interviews.


“Sometimes, for a nursing home, it’s a matter of retaining someone they’ve already hired and really want to keep on staff because of their dedication and motivation. But they just need a leg up with their language skills through a class like this in order to retain that job and succeed,” Smith-Hill said.


The course is one of seven sector-specific training offered at the Center for New Americans. Others include commercial housekeeping, food service and safety, landscaping and gardening, childcare service, retail customer service and manufacturing safety. LSS also has worked with 23 community employers to develop training specifically for the work they do.


The next cohort dates for Introduction to Patient Care haven’t been set yet, but one is typically done in the winter.


There are many success stories, too. One of last year’s students employed at Avera, recently was named Employee of the Month and was accepted at University Center where he will work toward a nursing degree.


“So he’s employed and really on a career pathway,” Smith-Hill said. “The students are always so grateful and so appreciative of the opportunity, and they’re amazing employees.”


To learn more about working with the LSS Center for New Americans call 605-731-2000.


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