COOLIDGE — After months of seeking a new teacher for the Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology nursing assistant program, the career and technical education school announced that it will be temporarily sunsetting the course.
“We have been trying to secure teachers for our Nursing Assistant II class since the first part of April,” Superintendent Mike Glover said. “We have opened this up and not had any one viable candidate for 90 days.”
Glover explained to Governing Board members at the July board meeting that Nursing Assistant II teachers are required to not only hold certification through the Arizona Department of Education but also must be certified by the Arizona State Board of Nursing.
In addition, AZBN standards prohibit nursing assistant courses being taught by substitutes, he said.
The problem is not a first for the school district, which had to temporarily cancel the section in 2013 for the same reason.
CAVIT is not alone in its struggle to secure candidates that meet the AZBN requirements.
According to Glover, several other CTE districts around Arizona are also considering making similar adjustments to their educational health care programs due to the inability to find registered nurses willing to transition into education that meet all the requirements outlined by AZBN.
Closing the program for the 2020-21 school year will provide the district with more time to recruit a viable applicant for the position, he noted.
The temporary closure will only affect second-year students currently enrolled in Nursing Assisting II as, in their second year of the program, students enrolled in the course test for certification.
The change does not extend to first-year CAVIT students, who receive training in CPR and standards outlined by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the first year of the program.
To accommodate students impacted by the change, however, CAVIT will be offering an Allied Health Technician course instead.
Allied Health will give students the opportunity to train as a patient care technician. According to Glover, the patient care technicians have similar duties to those of a nursing assistant. The program will also expose students to other career path alternatives like phlebotomy and EKG testing.
Although instructors for the program would be required to teach specific curriculum so students can test for certifications, they would not be subject to the same rigorous standards set by AZBN.
“There is an opportunity for students to continue at CAVIT (for) health careers and to explore these additional opportunities that are somewhat related to the training path we have,” Glover said.
The board approved the sunset closure of the Nursing Assistant II course in a 3-0 vote. Two members of the board, Alma Farrell and Rose Marie Monks, were absent from the July 1 meeting.
In addition, the board approved the development of the Allied Health program and the hiring of an instructor for the course.