UNM- Los Alamos has a history of responding to the needs of Los Alamos and the surrounding communities. In 2013, because of internal encouragement to increase the educational training of its employees, the Los Alamos Fire Department(LAFD) teamed up with UNM Los Alamos and created the curriculum that would meet the standards set forth by the National Registry for Emergency Medical Technicians.
Student feedback instantly confirmed how valuable this training could be for those whose jobs required EMT training for career retainment or advancement. Many of our Emergency Medical Technician students have gone on to nursing, physician assistant or medical schools recognizing they may have an advantage due to their EMT training. Students that continue on to UNM EMS Academy to complete their coursework to become paramedics, remark that starting at UNM Los Alamos was a smart move to get them on their way towards a higher degree.
In 2016, UNM-LA created a Personal Care Attendant (PCA) program because needs identified in the community. The one-semester Personal Care Attendant 101 course allows students to enter the workforce with the training needed to succeed. In collaboration with the NM Direct Caregivers Coalition, our PCA students test for certification and are able to enter the workforce with a credential that ensures industry standards.
After the success with the EMT and PCA programs, and conversations with local health care organizations, UNM LA decided to implement a Certified Nursing Aid (CNA) program in the spring of 2017. Local medical and care facilities had expressed their needs for qualified Certified Nursing Aids to staff their facilities. UNM Los Alamos adopted the established CNA curriculum from one of the other UNM branch campuses. The adoption process enabled UNM Los Alamos to quickly offer the CNA 101 course/program. A few recent CNA graduates have become certified through the NM Department of Health, and moved on to CNA positions at local medical and care facilities; while others have contracted with local families to provide in home care for family members.
These three UNM Los Alamos programs have enjoyed much community support. Scholarship and seed money from local community organizations and community members have helped participating students flourish. The most recent donors include the Trinity on the Hill Elder Group, who donated funds for scholarships in the PCA and CNA programs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job outlook for EMT’s will grow by 24 precent, CNA’s will grow by 17 percent, and Personal Care Attendants will grow by 38 percent through 2024. Statistics such as these are considered when planning program implementations at UNM Los Alamos.
UNM Los Alamos recognizes that among the residents of Los Alamos there is an aging community, and the need for trained healthcare professionals will continue to grow and perhaps surpass national statistical forecasts. UNM Los Alamos is committed to training these much-needed health professionals.
For more information, visit http://losalamos.unm.edu/sunpath/ or call Student Services at 505.662.5919.