Reporter’s notebook

  • Helping foreign-born nurses return to their profession
  • Texas college overhauls nursing program
  • Popular union train-the-trainer program returns
  • Providing incarcerated youth with job training opportunities
  • High school joins Minnesota college’s campus

Helping foreign-born nurses return to their profession

A partnership in Chicago has opened a center to guide immigrants who were nurses in their home countries to again work in their profession.

City Colleges of Chicago, Richard J. Daley College and the Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium on Tuesday announced the opening of the Chicago Welcome Back Center (CWBC), which will support immigrants with professional degrees obtained abroad so that they may re-enter their profession or establish a related career in Illinois.

“In time, it is our hope that this program will help to address the nursing shortage by increasing the pool of qualified and culturally competent nurses, contributing to the improvement of health access and outcomes for Chicagoans, especially for underserved populations,” Richard J. Daley College President Janine Janosky said in a release.

CWBC is based on the national Welcome Back Initiative model and will help participants explore alternative careers in healthcare while they are on the path toward licensure, according to program officials. It will offer case management and support services, as well as referrals to educational, community and professional programs and organizations.

In Illinois, about 52,000 immigrants hold at least a four-year college degree in medical and health sciences and services, according to the partnership. Approximately 12,000 (22%) of them work in low-skill jobs or are unemployed as a result of credential-recognition difficulties, limited English proficiency and other barriers. Nursing is the most common degree held by those whose skills are underutilized.

Texas college overhauls nursing program

Lee College, which for 60 years has trained students to become registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses, is revamping its nursing program and renovating facilities to meet changing workplace demands.

“Nursing is much more complex than it was 20 years ago,” Janena Norris, dean of nursing and allied health, said of the effort. “Nurses have a lot more responsibility at the bedside. Patients are living longer and have multiple underlying conditions, which requires more critical thinking and clinical judgment.”

The improvements include expanding the space inside its nursing center, as well as overhauling the curriculum to make the coursework more integrated. The changes will accommodate doubling the capacity of nursing students. In turn, local healthcare providers will hire more nursing graduates to meet their workforce demands.

“Renewing and updating our nursing program is critical to better serving the needs of our area hospitals, their patients and our communities,” said Lee College President Lynda Villanueva. “And as a school located near the largest medical center in the world, it’s imperative we create a steady flow of well-educated, highly skilled students ready to succeed in these facilities and in their careers.”

The college is holding an open house and tour of the renovated nursing facility on Wednesday.

Popular union train-the-trainer program returns

Washtenaw Community College (WCC) this week welcomed about 3,000 members of an international labor union that represents workers in the plumbing and pipefitting industries to an annual instructor training program on the Michigan college’s campus.

The weeklong training includes classroom instruction, an apprentice contest, certification exams and demonstrations, and a graduation ceremony in which 154 participants will receive certificates of program completion and another 40 will earn associate degrees from WCC.

United Association (UA) trainers commit to a rigorous five-year training program and in turn train their members throughout the United States and Canada.

WCC faculty and UA members teach the courses and cover topics such as water quality, welding techniques, plumbing code application, methods in teaching backflow prevention and water quality fire protection, according to the college.

UA and WCC have partnered for more than 30 years on the program, which this year logged a record number of participants.

“This year has great significance because, due to Covid, we couldn’t offer the in-person experience for several years,” said UA General President Mark McManus.

Providing incarcerated youth with job training opportunities

Tallahassee Community College (TCC) has partnered with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to launch a pilot program focused on workforce education in state juvenile facilities.

Project Anchor will provide career-readiness skills, industry-recognized training and certifications in targeted sectors, and career pathways for youth to seamlessly continue their education at a Florida college or district postsecondary institution, according to TCC.

TCC and state officials will hold a press conference on Wednesday to provide more details.

High school joins Minnesota college’s campus

A unique high school program that comprises international students will join the campus of Minneapolis Community and Technical College this fall so those students can more easily matriculate to college.

Wellstone International High School, which is part of the Minneapolis Public Schools system, serves more than 150 multilingual and international students ages 17 to 21. Wellstone students earn college credits while completing high school. Approximately 55 Wellstone students already attend the college annually through a postsecondary option program, according to Christopher Rau, the college’s vice president of finance and operations.

The high school will occupy space in one of the college’s buildings. It will host its own computer lab and schedule activities in the college’s art classrooms, conference rooms, theatre, gym and weight room when the college is not using them.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.