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SUN PATH Grant Helps Healthcare Students Prepare for Careers

January 5, 2017 -- About 500 CNM students preparing for healthcare careers have benefited from a $2 million SUN PATH grant awarded to the School of Health, Wellness & Public Safety. More students will benefit from the program over the final two years of the grant.
SUN PATH Grant Helps Healthcare Students Prepare for Careers

Nursing Assistant students work with simulation manikins.

CNM’s $2 million grant is part of a $15 million four-year grant New Mexico received in 2014 from the U.S. Department of Labor to build healthcare career pathways and develop an effective collaboration between the Department of Workforce Solutions, Higher Education Department and healthcare employers. The $15 million is shared by the SUN PATH Consortium that consists of 11 New Mexico colleges, including CNM.

“CNM’s share of the grant money is being used for a variety of purposes that benefit students wanting to go into healthcare,” said Amanda Lopez, CNM’s SUN PATH program coordinator. “The grant helps CNM provide students with a quality education in healthcare and prepare them for careers in their field.”

The grant's emphasis is on community colleges preparing students for the workforce in the healthcare industries of Allied Health, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Health Information Technology

Each of the 11 participating schools is responsible for meeting SUN PATH grant goals. The general goals include expanding capacity and making systemic improvements in the delivery of healthcare career pathways that align with industry needs; increasing the attainment of degrees, certifications and industry-recognized credentials; and creating strategic alignment between education and workforce systems, resulting in improved employment outcomes, retention and average earnings.

At CNM, the existing EMS credit program was enhanced by the grant with the purchase of three new simulation manikins. These high-fidelity manikins mimic breathing, heart-beats and other vital signs that are used to create realistic medical trauma scenarios for students.

The funds were also used to assist programs in purchasing lab supplies, monitors, materials for creating fake wounds on manikins, and additional computers to operate the manikins. The grant funds also helped to fund the development of two new certificate programs -- Community Health Worker and Home Health Aide -- and to purchase instructional supplies like bandages, gloves, face shields and gauze.

The grant also helps improve the quality of online courses. It paid for faculty to participate in Quality Matters, a national faculty-centered, peer-review process designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components. The goal is to better train faculty to be able to review online courses in order to make recommendations on improvements.

Other components of the grant included:

  • Using Job Development Career Coaches. Employees from the Department of Workforce Solutions assist students with writing resumes and cover letters, preparing for interviews, and they offer information on available jobs and job fairs. The coaches also help students access the Department of Workforce Solutions website, which features a job search engine.
  • Expanding credit for prior learning in several Health, Wellness & Public Safety programs. This is particularly useful for military veterans who may have worked in healthcare fields while in the military. This kind of "prior learning" can count toward college credit.

“This grant has given us the opportunity to change students’ lives,” said Tamra Mason, dean of the School of Health, Wellness & Public Safety and grant principal investigator. ”The funds have allowed us to enhance our programs as well as partner with other colleges and Workforce Solutions for the benefit of students and employers across New Mexico.”

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