A healthy education

Published 9:58 am Monday, March 28, 2011

Sandy Fleming uses the resources at Albert Lea’s Workforce Development center Friday. The center recently received a grant from AgStar to help job seekers learn about the health care industry. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

A local health care education class recently received a grant from the AgStar Fund for Rural America. The $5,000 grant will help those who aren’t eligible for other funding for the course.

The class is called Healthcare Academy and is offered by Workforce Development Inc. Clara Sifuentes is the coordinator for the class in Freeborn and Mower counties, and she teaches it at Riverland Community College’s Albert Lea campus.

“The Healthcare Academy is an opportunity for clients or people to gain new skills,” Sifuentes said.

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The course specifically helps people learn about the health care field before going further into training for jobs in the health care sector like certified nursing assisting.

The view of the Workforce Development center office in the Skyline Plaza in Albert Lea. AgStar just issued a $5,000 grant to help educate people about the health care industry. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Sifuentes said their clients learn about test taking, medical terminology, problem solving, decision making and general job skills like how to work as a group and be prompt.

“They get prepared and have a lot of knowledge about the field before they go into the actual training,” Sifuentes said.

The classes tour nursing homes and shadow nursing assistants to see what kind of tasks are completed in a normal day. Sifuentes said some people do change their minds about their career path or become more excited about their career path after job shadowing. She likes being able to motivate people to see that they have potential and gain confidence.

“To see their attitude change — that’s what I really love to do,” Sifuentes said.

Becky Thofson, sector projects coordinator for Workforce Development, applied for the grant from AgStar because she wanted to help people get into the Healthcare Academy who previously hadn’t been eligible for funding.

“This money will allow us to serve more people in these academies regardless of their eligibility,” Thofson said.

Thofson said she supports the program because it makes workers more trained about health care jobs, which means better long-term care for people in southern Minnesota.

The AgStar Fund for Rural America is a corporate giving program of AgStar Financial Services. AgStar awarded $91,000 to 22 organizations in 2011. The grant funding is for specific causes including education, environment, technology or quality of life. It can be used for project or program support, technical assistance, general operating support or equipment.