Gadsden State nurses enter apprenticeships


Photo: Signees pose with Gadsden Regional Medical Center staff at the apprenticeship signing event. (Courtesy of Gadsden State)

Twelve Gadsden State Community College students signed employment contracts with three local employers as part of the school’s Registered Nursing Apprenticeship Program.

“This program is a win-win for our students and for the employers participating in this program,” said Dr. Joey Battles, interim dean of Health Sciences. “Through the program, our nursing students are able to learn more about the policies and procedures of the healthcare facility while the healthcare facility will have them ready to work full time as soon as they graduate.”

The first of its kind in Alabama, the program was introduced this past June after the Alabama Legislature approved amendments to the Nurse Practice Act in early 2022. The program allows healthcare employers to enter into an apprenticeship agreement with a community college. Students who apply and are accepted as nurse apprentices serve as employees of the healthcare facility and work alongside experienced nurses.

Gadsden State first entered into an agreement with Riverview Regional Medical Center in Gadsden and Rehab Select in Albertville and Talladega. Gadsden Regional Medical Center, Regional Medical Center in Anniston and Rehab Select at Barfield Healthcare in Guntersville have since joined the RN Apprenticeship Program.

“We are so thankful for the facilities who have partnered with us to make this program happen for our students,” said Dr. Tera Simmons, executive vice president of Gadsden State. “Nursing is such a wonderful profession, one that gives people the potential to positively impact others’ lives. The patients and their families never forget when they are well cared for by a nurse.”

During the apprenticeship, students will have the opportunity to grow their skills.

“This is a competency-based apprenticeship,” said Dr. Cynthia Mullinax, director of the Nursing Program at Gadsden State. “Apprentices will learn and experience basic and advanced competencies. They will also complete required clinical hours and classroom work.”

The program allows nursing students to attend classes and labs while working two to three days per week. It allows student nurse apprentices to get paid a progressive wage as they complete required competencies while working for a registered employer.

Apprentices may continue their employment following the completion of the apprenticeship and passing the National Council Licensure Examination that certifies nurses. The apprentices help meet the high demand for nurses across Alabama. Nurses are listed as one of the Top 25 highest in-demand positions in Alabama, with more than 4,500 annual openings in the state for RNs and licensed practical nurses.

Gadsden Regional Medical Center apprentices are Carley Holman, Oma Lain, Madison Parker, Ashton Pruitt and Kelsey Young.

“Nurses have an amazing impact on others,” said Gadsden Regional Medical Center CEO Denton Park. “We don’t see people at their best. They have things going wrong; they’re hurt; they’re in pain. As a nurse, you have an opportunity to get paid while contributing to saving lives. You make a difference.”

Student apprentices recruited and employed by RMC-Anniston are Stacy Merrill, Emily Raughton, Sarah Serra and Hailey Swink. Emma Goza will serve as an apprentice at RMC-Stringfellow.

Rehab Select at Barfield Healthcare hired Chasity Jones and Emily Taylor.



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