Even in the midst of a global pandemic and an ever-changing learning landscape, 35 Yuma Union High School District (YUHSD) nursing students passed their Certified Nurse’s Assistant (CNA) exams to earn their CNA license. These Career & Technical Education (CTE) graduates were again among the state’s best with a 95% pass rate.

This, despite the chaos caused by COVID-19. The district had to meet the requirements of the Arizona Board of Nursing, restrictions on schools from the Arizona Legislature and Governor, and the new restrictions for the clinical sites. The Yuma Union CTE team worked with these groups to ensure that students could continue learning and made every effort to help the students succeed, which obviously paid off in a big way.

Some of the changes necessitated by the pandemic included:

  • Purchase of 10 times the lab linens so every time a student touched a hospital bed the sheets could be changed.
  • Laundry service to meet the new laundry requirements and when available, new washers and dryers in the labs.
  • New geriatric simulators for each lab for students to use when COVID-19 prevented them attending clinical sites.
  • COVID-19 tests for the students twice each week during clinical rotations.
  • Specialized masks and shields plus full PPE to protect the students in clinical rotations.
  • The RNs working expanded hours so students could come into the lab early and still get home before their next period begins.
  • Expanded the number of clinical sites from two to five, for increased physical distancing measures and allowed for site closures when necessary.

When much of the world was on pause, these nursing students kept going. The pandemic could have been an excuse to quit, but it fueled their fire to help instead.

CTE Month At YUHSD, nursing is a comprehensive, two-year program. Students experience the passion of providing quality patient care in a variety of healthcare settings; performing personal care procedures including taking vital signs, transferring patients, and providing therapeutic treatments; and practicing health care techniques in a clinical environment using effective patient communication among other things. During the second year of the program students take part in 80 hours of supervised internship at a local care facility. Currently, Kofa, Gila Ridge, San Luis, and Cibola offer nursing. However, beginning in August 2021, Yuma High School will launch its nursing program.

Other CTE programs offered at YUHSD span a variety of industries, including agriculture, automotive, business, cosmetology, construction and building maintenance, culinary arts, digital technologies, education, engineering, healthcare, law and public safety and A/V production.

February is CTE Month. It’s a time to celebrate the programs that are helping students prepare for an industry or certificate in their chosen field. CTE programs encompass a wide variety of programs, ranging from law enforcement to nursing to coding to machining. At the conclusion of their course of study, graduates of these programs are prepared to launch their career, or pursue additional learning through postsecondary studies.

Throughout the month, Expect More Arizona will be sharing stories of how CTE programs around Arizona have adapted to COVID-19 to continue serving students. Unlike traditional academics, CTE programs are often hands-on and can’t be transitioned to remote learning.