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Class may help ease shortage

CRYSTAL FALLS—Iron County schools are working together on developing a new health occupations class that not only could expose students to career opportunities but also ease manpower shortages at county nursing homes.
    Forest Park School Board members learned about the plans during their regular meeting Feb. 23.
    Board President Jim Nocerini reported on a meeting about a “health occ” class held recently. It involved Chester Pintarelli, administrator at the county’s Medical Care Facility; Rob Possanza of the Iron River Care Center; and officials from the Forest Park and West Iron school districts and the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District.
    “We got it off the ground now,” the board president said. “We’re waiting for the answers to come back.” The group is working with the ISD, which has to approve the class before it can be offered.
    Forest Park Superintendent Becky Waters said the group is looking at a class in which students could earn a CNA (certified nurse assistant) certificate during the first semester.
    “Then they would do a career co-op—we call it career co-op; West Iron calls it work study—for the second semester at the Medicare and the Iron River Care Center.”
    The proposed class would start next fall and would be taught by the CNA instructor at the Medicare facility. Twelve students would take the class, with seniors given priority.
    “We’ve been working on this for how many years now,” Nocerini said. “Finally, it’s off the ground. Where it’s going to go, we’ll know on the 25th of March,” when the next planning meeting is held.
    “It’s kind of a win-win for everybody,” Waters explained later, “because our students would have the ability to come away with a CNA certificate after one semester.
    “The Medicare and Iron River Care Center are looking for CNAs to work summers and weekends. Just another job opportunity for our kids.”
    The class will also expose students to the medical/health care profession, giving them a chance to see whether they are interested in that kind of a career.

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