STLCC, Ranken Jordan Put Graduates on Fast Track to Meaningful Careers in Health Care

By on April 2, 2019
Ranken Jordan PCT Graduates

The bright afternoon sun and uniquely cheerful atmosphere at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital served as suitable complements to the beaming smile that Evita Brodtrick wore as she delivered her Patient Care Technician (PCT) program graduation speech in the hospital’s conference room.

“It was completely lifechanging, to say the least,” Brodtrick declared of the program experience, speaking on behalf of the five members of her graduating class.

Located in Maryland Heights, Ranken Jordan is the region’s only bridge hospital, serving children with medical complexities to help them bridge from a traditional hospital to home. Just as the hospital has increased its ability to admit more patients due to a recent three-story, 75,000-sq.-ft. expansion, so has its need for PCTs grown, substantiating the value of the specialized training and talent pipeline made possible by its alliance with St. Louis Community College’s PCT program.

Professional PCTs work in a hospital setting under direct nursing supervision to provide care for patients by checking temperatures and vital signs, ensuring comfort and cleanliness, assisting with patient mobility and monitoring the patient for changes in progress or demeanor. St. Louis Community College’s PCT program is a non-credit accelerated training program enriched by a partnership between the College and a companion hospital to equip students for this tough-yet-gratifying line of work. The program fast-tracks a student’s ability to get textbook knowledge and practical experience, combining six weeks of classroom instruction and hands-on lab exercises with three weeks of clinical practice under the guidance of preceptors (highly experienced nursing assistants) at the partnering hospital’s location.

Students often claim that the integration of the classroom instruction and real-life experience was a major draw for them to apply for the program, as affirmed by Brodtrick, who was applying for classes on the College’s website when she came across program information and was inspired to learn more.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a good use of my time,’” she said. “I’d gain knowledge by actually being in the hospital and getting the physical experience. I learn best that way, and if anyone else learns best that way, then this is the program they want to be in.”

For fellow graduate, Elizabeth Johnson-Moyneur, having the guidance of supportive, knowledgeable instructors who currently work as nurses and doctors in the field gave her the confidence she needed to complete the program.

“I was homeschooled my whole life, so this was huge for me and I worked really hard to be here,” shared Johnson-Moyneur. “I was very intimidated by a school setting, but I feel so blessed to have been able to go through this program and work with all the amazing instructors. This opportunity has shown me that I can climb those mountains if I work at it.”

Brodtrick shared similar sentiments about the value of her experience with the program instructors and preceptors.

“We are eternally grateful to have had this opportunity to work under such a skilled group of people, showing us everything twice so we could get it right the first time,” Brodtrick said. “St. Louis Community College’s instructors truly went the extra mile within class, helping us to understand not only the information we needed to be successful but how to apply it to the job. There’s no doubt in my mind that we could not have had a better classroom experience for this program.”

Jennifer Hoxsey, Ranken Jordan’s clinical nurse education manager, reiterated the value of combining classroom instruction with on-site clinical practice.

“The educators in the PCT program presented critical information to the students prior to the clinical experience. This allowed the students to jump right in when presented with the opportunity to be at the bedside,” Hoxsey said. “We have a unique patient population at Ranken Jordan that can be intimidating to individuals who have had limited exposure to health care or to children. The combination of the two can be especially challenging so having pertinent content delivered in the classroom made the transition for the students much more efficient and less daunting.”

Not only does the PCT program prepare students for the physical aspects of the job, but the experience in the Ranken Jordan hospital setting exposed the students to emotional elements as well, offering a priceless opportunity to determine if the path was right for them.

“I wanted to work in a hospital before I went to nursing school because I know it’s not for everyone, and my biggest fear was that I was going to get a degree and find out it wasn’t for me,” said Brodtrick. “I wanted to work in a hospital and get the feel for it, see if I loved it, and if I did, then that’s the path I was going to continue. Now I’ve had some experience and I’ve seen a lot—and I know there’s more to come—but I already know that I can see myself doing this for a very long time.”

Another graduating classmate, Taylor Van Dyke, also had concerns before entering the program that she was able to put to rest through her experience.

“Working with babies was intimidating to me,” she admitted. “But my preceptor let me go right in, talked me through everything, asked me questions and had me double check with her before procedures. She definitely prepared me for the job.”

That preparation is not something to take lightly, as young children are known to be tricky patients, further reinforcing the value of uniting textbook knowledge with real-world practice.

“Being on the job, it’s honestly something you can’t fully prepare for because you’re dealing with kids squirming and just taking vitals is a process,” Van Dyke said. “I had a kid pull off his socks seven times just while I was trying to take his vitals! That’s something you can’t really prepare for in a lab, but the techniques we learned were easy to refer back to because the instructors spent a lot of time on them.”

For many PCT program students, the first-hand experience they received in their clinicals with Ranken Jordan helped reinforce that they were making the right career choice.

“A lot of people couldn’t work with little babies with wires and feeding tubes, but I’ve discovered it doesn’t bother me,” admitted Johnson-Moyneur. “There is a patient who can’t do anything for herself right now, and every time I get her vitals, I will just sit there and hold her hand for a second. She will just squeeze my hand because that’s all she can do, and I think, ‘What if that makes all the difference in the world with her getting better?’ I feel blessed for those little moments. It makes me feel good knowing I’m making a difference.”

Upon successfully completing the program, students earn a certificate that shows they have met the Unlicensed Assistive Personnel requirements under the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services alongside their Healthcare Provider BLS/CPR credential.

This highly-focused training program delivers a significant win-win scenario for the partnering hospital and the graduating student. Beyond receiving the credentials, many graduates are offered employment opportunities with the partner hospital, as exemplified recently when four out of the five students who successfully completed the program received an immediate offer of employment from Ranken Jordan.

“The PCT program gave us a new pool of highly qualified applicants. The graduates were well trained and understand the importance of their role in caring for members of our community,” said Hoxsey. “Due to having clinicals here at Ranken Jordan, those students that come to work here will have a shorter orientation period than other new hires. They already have a good understanding of the hospital, our model care, the role they are in, and our high expectations for each employee. It is our hope that we will have graduates of the PCT program working with us for years to come.”

Ranken Jordan’s chief nursing officer, Kristin LaRose, shared similar sentiments during her speech at the PCT graduation ceremony.

“I think this is going to be a wonderful partnership for us and St. Louis Community College,” LaRose said. “We’re excited to enter into this endeavor, and—looking at the wonderful people that we got a chance to work with here—we know that it’s going to be something we look forward to continuing as we continue to grow.”

Ranken Jordan was recently approved as a Registered Apprenticeship Sponsor with the U.S. Department of Labor, which sets the stage nicely for future programs.

For many graduates, the PCT program provides a solid foundation that allows them to start working in a hospital setting while attending school to pursue their broader healthcare career goals.

“I want to work here and go to school so I get the best experience possible before jumping into nursing school,” Brodtrick stated. “I’m going to be much more prepared now than I would have been otherwise.”

New sessions for St. Louis Community College’s PCT program begin throughout the year. Visit the St. Louis Community College PCT program page online to learn more about the program and application process.

About Rebecca Rutherford

Rebecca Rutherford is Marketing Communications Coordinator of St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group, which delivers non-credit continuing education opportunities, corporate training and community services to the St. Louis region.

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