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Gadsden State nursing apprentices sign employment contracts

Gadsden, Ala. — Gadsden State Community College recognized 12 students and three local employers as they signed employment contracts as a part of the Registered Nursing Apprenticeship Program. The signing event took place Tuesday at the Beck Field House on the Wallace Drive Campus.

“This program is a win-win for our students and for the employers participating in this program,” said Dr. Joey Battles, interim dean of Health Sciences. “Through the program, our nursing students are able to learn more about the policies and procedures of the healthcare facility while the healthcare facility will have them ready to work fulltime as soon as they graduate.”

The program, the first of its kind in Alabama, was introduced in June after the Alabama Legislature approved amendments to the Nurse Practice Act in early-2022. The program allows healthcare employers to enter into an apprenticeship agreement with a community college. Students who apply and are accepted as nurse apprentices serve as employees of the healthcare facility and work alongside experienced nurses.

Gadsden State first entered into an agreement with Riverview Regional Medical Center in Gadsden and Rehab Select in Albertville and Talladega. Three new employees have joined the RN Apprenticeship Program: Regional Medical Center in Anniston, Gadsden Regional Medical Center and Rehab Select at Barfield Healthcare in Guntersville.

“We are so thankful for the facilities who have partnered with us to make this program happen for our students,” said Dr. Tera Simmons, executive vice president of Gadsden State. “Nursing is such a wonderful profession; one that gives people the potential to positively impact others’ lives. The patients and their families never forget when they are well cared for by a nurse.”

During the apprenticeship, students will have the opportunity to grow their skills.

“This is a competency-based apprenticeship,” said Dr. Cynthia Mullinax, director of the Nursing Program at Gadsden State. “Apprentices will learn and experience basic and advanced competencies. They will also complete required clinical hours and classroom work.”

The program allows nursing students to attend classes and labs while working two to three days per week. It allows student nurse apprentices to get paid a progressive wage as they complete required competencies while working for a registered employer.

Apprentices may continue their employment following the completion of the apprenticeship and passing the National Council Licensure Examination that certifies nurses. The apprentices help meet the high demand for nurses across Alabama. Nurses are listed as one of the Top 25 highest demand positions in Alabama with more than 4,500 annual openings in the state for RNs and licensed practical nurses.

The student apprentices recruited and employed by RMC-Anniston are Stacy Merrill, Emily Raughton, Sarah Serra and Hailey Swink. Emma Goza will serve as an apprentice at RMC-Stringfellow.

“Nursing is a calling,” Louis Bass, CEO of RMC, said during the signing event. “If you’re doing this for money, you’re in the wrong profession. You can’t face what nurses do every day and not have this be your calling. What you do is so important.”

Gadsden Regional Medical Center apprentices are Carley Holman, Oma Lain, Madison Parker, Ashton Pruitt and Kelsey Young.  Denton Park, CEO at GRMC, also spoke to the new apprenticeship cohort.

“Nurses have an amazing impact on others,” he said. “We don’t see people at their best. They have things going wrong; they’re hurt; they’re in pain. As a nurse, you have an opportunity to get paid while contributing to saving lives. You make a difference.”

Rehab Select at Barfield Healthcare has hired Chasity Jones and Emily Taylor.

“This apprenticeship program is here to stay,” said Bobby Stephenson, director of business development for Rehab Select. “It’s going to continue to grow in our state thanks to Gadsden State.”

See an album of photos from the event. 

RN Apprenticeship Signing