Who will Your Healthcare Provider be Tomorrow?

And, more importantly, “How is that person being trained today?”

Reading or listening to any current news broadcast, you will often hear the sometimes scary statistics of the healthcare industry; it boils down to more demand than supply. Longevity, population growth and healthcare reform are all factors driving our ever-increasing needs for qualified healthcare professionals. Aging workforce factors, insurance issues and lack of training programs contribute to the supply-side issues. So what’s a future patient to do?

New Britain has taken the lead in being part of the solution while improving career opportunities and economic stability for our next generation of workers.

Back in 2008, the Employability Skills Task Force, chaired by Jason Howey, President, OKAY Industries, and Jim Williamson, CFGNB President was formed at the request of the NB Board of Education and Dr. Doris Kurtz, Superintendent of Schools. Consisting of a dozen local business leaders, its purpose was to review high school graduation requirements and make recommendations on how to better prepare NBHS students for local employment.

The Task Force identified healthcare as the area’s largest and fastest-growing employment opportunity. So, beginning in the summer 2009, a sub-group of the original Employability Skills Task Force began to pursue the establishment of a “smaller learning community” at NBHS which would introduce students to health professions. This group was chaired by Jason Howey and included Jim Williamson, Larry Tanner (then-CEO, The Hospital of Central CT,) David Crandall (CEO, Hospital for Special Care,) Bill Millerick (CEO, NB Chamber of Commerce,) Tom Phillips (CEO, Capital Workforce Partners,) Mayor Tim Stewart, and Dr. Doris Kurtz.

Of note, in February 2008, Mr. Tom Menditto, District Coordinator for Science, Technology and Applied Education and New Britain High School Principal Michael Foran were leading a group of educators and healthcare community members to develop the curriculum for potential “Health Care Careers Academy.” They developed a comprehensive preliminary proposal for its curriculum and presented the idea to various groups with favorable feedback, including a presentation to the Employability Task Force. In the spring of 2009 this group was asked by then Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Kurtz, to table the idea as the CEOs of the two hospitals in town were making this project one of their organization’s top priorities and would support it financially by hiring a project manager/consultant requested by the Employability Task Force.

Hospital for Special Care and The Hospital of Central CT each contributed $50,000 to support an Implementation Study for the Health Academy and, in November 2009, healthcare consultant, Maria Pietrantuono, was hired to assist in making the project a reality. CFGNB joined the other funders by making a $25,000 grant to support the project.

After a year’s study, including two trips by Health Academy teams to similar programs in North Carolina and Texas, the New Britain Academy for Health Care Professions opened in September 2010 with an initial enrollment of 57 students. These students were enrolled in the first elective introductory course. Three teachers were selected to teach the Foundation of Health Science and Technology 1 (FHST 1) course. This course is a blend of Web- and classroom-based instruction offered though Connecticut Career Choices’ Center for 21st Century Skills and uses the Moodle Web-based instructional platform. At the completion of the first academic year, each student gained significant insight into the world of healthcare; visited both hospitals and Tunxis Community College; met and learned from more than 30 guest speakers from local hospitals, the Dr. Henry Lee Forensic Science Institute, and LifeStar. The students also participated in the first annual Healthcare Career Fair and the first annual Family Health Promotion and Wellness Fair.

The sub-group is now the Executive Committee and has added Dr. Cathryn Addy, President of Tunxis Community College as a new member.

“The Community Foundation of Greater New Britain has made a significant commitment from the Greater New Britain community to this important initiative, and the students are having fun while learning about the many opportunities the healthcare sector has to offer here in New Britain. The generous contribution of $25,000 made by CFGNB has supported the consultant’s stipend, ongoing curriculum development, the purchase of one Promethean Interactive Smart Board, student uniforms and students’ field trips. In addition, simulation skills lab equipment was purchased as our students move into the junior year and begin clinical exploration,” explains New Britain Academy for Health Professions’ Consultant, Maria Pietrantuono.

The New Britain Academy for Health Professions has launched a website (http://csdnb.net/orgs/nbhs-nbahp/,) created a brochure and took votes on its logo design.

In addition to the original funding from the two hospitals and CFGNB, the Health Academy has received additional funding and skills lab equipment contributions from both hospitals; a contribution from the Rotary Club; in-kind donations of technology and classroom materials from Capital Workforce Partners and a substantial grant from American Savings Foundation.

This Health Academy, a smaller learning community at New Britain High School, distinguishes New Britain High as the only school in Connecticut with this type of dedicated and comprehensive healthcare program of study.

At the opening of the current academic year there are 176 students enrolled in two grades (10th and 11th). There are 5 elective courses, in 8 sections/classes. In September 2011, two pathways of study were introduced. Pathway 1 introduces the biomedical science program from Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a nationally recognized provider of rigorous and innovative STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education curricular programs used in middle and high schools throughout the U.S. This curriculum provides students with engaging hands-on, project-based courses in biomedical sciences. Students enrolled in Pathway 1, honors-level courses, may receive AP (advanced placement) quality points if they achieve at least an 80% average in the course and a 70 or above on the college credit examination.

Pathway 2, accelerated-level courses, provide students with program options that can lead them to an associates degree profession or to help them acquire a certificate upon graduation in one of several healthcare related occupations, such as medical office assistant, dental assistant and pharmacy and phlebotomy technicians. Students enrolled in selected Pathway 2 courses may receive Honors quality points for earning at least an 80% average in the course and successful completion of additional assignments.

Lead Teacher Michaelknight Zayas is in the process of forming the first HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) chapter in this geographic area. Established in 1976, HOSA is a national student organization endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Education (HSE) Division of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). HOSA provides a unique program of leadership development, motivation, and recognition exclusively for secondary, post-secondary, adult and collegiate students enrolled in HSE-ACTE programs.

The New Britain High School team of administrators and teachers selected to work with the Health Academy, in partnership with healthcare professionals from both hospitals in New Britain, are an impressive team of professionals dedicated to students’ success and achievement. The loyalty and dedication of the experienced teachers who inspire the students to attend class and engage them in meaningful course work are key contributing factors to the success of this Health Academy.

The Health Academy and the High School are fortunate to have a visionary leader in Principal Michael Foran who was recently named the "2011 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year.” Mr. Foran's philosophy is that every student must be given the opportunity to meet his or her full potential as everyone can make a contribution to society. Mr. Foran has a unique ability to bring staff, community and students together, and this is demonstrated by the esprit de corps that is evident throughout the hallways of the high school. The Health Academy was noted as one of several positive changes and accomplishments that occurred under Mr. Foran’s leadership.

Continued success of the Health Academy will require ongoing funding, and community support. The goal of this unique and impressive program is to create the next generation of healthcare professionals, many of whom will stay and practice in their own community providing them with a bright future and, possibly, providing you with your next doctor.

74A Vine Street | New Britain, CT 06052 | 860.229.6018 | Contact Us
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74A Vine Street | New Britain, CT 06052 | 860.229.6018 | Contact Us
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