UNM-LA Honors First PCA Class Graduates

UNM-LA’s first class of PCA graduates with their certificates Wednesday morning, from left, Weifeng Fan, Maria Eadie, Instructor Melanie Colgan, RN, MA, Carmen Salazar and Maria ‘Victoria’ Rygh. Photo by Nancy Coombs/UNM-LA

Gathered for a photo following Wednesday’s PCA graduation ceremony at UNM-LA, from left, Instructor Melanie Colgan, RN, MA, Maria ‘Victoria’ Rygh, Maria Eadie, Weifeng Fan, Los Alamos Medical Center CEO John Whiteside, program supporter Barbara Stoddard and UNM-LA CEO Dr. Cindy Rooney. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com


Los Alamos Daily Post

In a moving ceremony this morning, UNM-LA CEO Dr. Cindy Rooney recognized the college’s first class of Personal Care Attendant (PCA) graduates. After completing classroom time and passing competency tests, the students tested and obtained certification through the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition.

“This achievement is a direct result of all your hard work and of those people around you who have supported you in this important endeavor,” Dr. Rooney said.

The first class of PCA graduates includes Maria Eadie, Weifeng Fan, Maria “Victoria” Rygh and Carmen Salazar. Instructor Melanie Colgan, RN, MA, presented the students with their certificates during Wednesday’s ceremony in the Jeannette O. Wallace Hall.

“I have never seen a class work so hard in all my years of teaching … this group of students is very special …,” Colgan said.

Longtime Los Alamos resident Barbara Stoddard attended today’s ceremony and was recognized for her generosity in helping to make the program possible. Dr. Rooney explained that Stoddard contacted her to talk about the nursing program at the college.

“I had to tell her we didn’t have a nursing program after which she and I got together and with her help in providing seed money for the program and along with the help of others we now have our first graduating class,” Dr. Rooney said. “We also just started a class that is the next level up, the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class. Two of our PCA graduates, Victoria Rygh and Maria Eadie are now enrolled in that class.”

Dr. Rooney said the CNA program provides students with the kind of skills Los Alamos Medical Center is interested in when hiring employees. Rygh works in the Environmental Services Department at LAMC and CEO John Whiteside attended Wednesday’s graduation ceremony to show support for his employee as well as the program.

The five credit hour class, PCA 101, is a one semester course. Training includes 32 hours of clinical training, which was completed at Sombrillo/Aspen Ridge.

Students who take the PCA Course learn to:

• Monitor vital signs and keep records;
• Move a patient from bed to a wheelchair;
• Walk with a walker or cane or with a gait belt;
• Care for and groom a bedridden patient;
• Feed a patient;
• Deal with tubes (ostomy, catheter, drainage tubes); and
• Administer CPR and first aid.

Other areas of study include:

•Infection prevention;
• Basic anatomy and physiology;
•Common chronic or acute conditions;
•Human development and aging;
•Fall prevention;
•Changes in diet with aging; and

To learn more about the PCA program at UNM-LA, contact Cindy Leyba at cleyba@unm.edu or 505.663.3407.


UNM-LA CEO Dr. Cindy Rooney commends the PCA graduates for their hard work and quest for excellence during Wednesday’s ceremony. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

UNM-LA Instructor Melanie Colgan, RN, MA, at Wednesday’s PCA graduation ceremony. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com